“F” is for (pineapple) Fibre. Teresa Nobre de Carvalho, Researcher, Center for the Humanities Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)


Alampay (shawl), Pineapple fibre and silk, Philippines, National Museum Collection – IMG 7628. © National Museum Collection/Yohana Frias (NMP). These shawls dyed with organic materials are made using a kind of open-work weaving technique called rengue to create a gauze-like cloth, woven in Kalibo, Aklan using piña-seda (pineapple and silk) fibers.

The first description of the pineapple – Ananas comosus – reached Europe in 1493 in the records from the voyage that took Christopher Columbus to the islands of Central America. Likened to an artichoke, the fruit delighted the seafarers. Too sensitive to survive the lengthy ocean crossing, it arrived at the court of the Catholic Monarchs in the form of a conserve.

Throughout the 16th century missionaries, chroniclers and voyagers posted to, or travelling through, South America praised the flavour, aroma and medicinal qualities of this fruit. Probably native from the interior region of Brazil and Paraguay, the pineapple had followed the indigenous populations in their seasonal dislocations since ancient times. Prized by Portuguese sailors, it accompanied them on their maritime crossings. As a result, it was propagated at the freshwater stopping points and trading posts through which the boats passed. This early diffusion of the species from America to Asia is testament to the high esteem in which the fruit was held.

The pineapple was taken to the Filipino archipelago by the Spanish in the 1570s. On these islands, the local populations had an age-old tradition in textile production, creating fabrics from cotton, banana-tree and palm-tree fibres and had no trouble introducing a new fibre onto their looms.

The island that proved itself most suited to pineapple cultivation appears to have been present-day Panay. In the Province of Aklan the elites seem to have encouraged, from the 17th century onwards, the production of pineapple fibre fabrics, lace and embroidery. As such, the missionaries would have been reliant upon the skills of the local peoples. At the monasteries and convents which were founded in the region, weaving and embroidery ateliers were set up, alongside the schools for the teaching of doctrine, reading and writing).


Panyo (Handkerchief), Pineapple fibre and silk, Philippines, National Museum Collection, IMG nº 7611. © National Museum Collection/Yohana Frias (NMP)
Four handwoven handkerchiefs embroidered with floral designs, woven in Kalibo, Aklan using piña-seda (pineapple and silk) fibers, embroidered in Lumban, Laguna using cotton threads.  

Regular contact between Acapulco and Manila fostered commercial trade between Asia and the Spanish colonial possessions. The subsequent arrival of Chinese traders and craftsmen in Manila brought with it the expertise and artistic refinement of Eastern weavers and embroiderers to the archipelago. The handkerchiefs, pañuelos and lace mantillas produced on these distant islands rivalled the most exquisite Flemish or French lace in their delicacy.  The skilful needlework of these young Filipinos girls resulted in the production of fine woven scarves and embroidery made from pineapple fibre.

Aboard the Manila Galleons and crossing the Atlantic, these elegant items would arrive in Europe where they were coveted by queens, princesses, ladies-in-waiting and aristocratic ladies.


Panyo (Handkerchief), Pineapple fibre and silk, Philippines, National Museum Collection, IMG nº 7607. © National Museum Collection/Yohana Frias (NMP)

Throughout the second half of the 18th century the supply diversified. The interest shown by aristocrats and European sovereigns in acquiring refined Filipino embroideries led to an unprecedented investment in the production of these delicate pieces. Deemed worthy of society’s most distinguished, many sought to acquire and offer them as expensive gifts. Royal and aristocratic houses were amongst the most prestigious buyers of these exquisite pieces.

In modern times, clothing made from pineapple fibre is a fundamental part of the Filipino identity. At official ceremonies and national festivities, items of clothing produced from pineapple fibre by the skilled hands of local artisans are essential elements in the attire of both the elite and the general public.


Tambor (embroidery process), Philippines, National Museum Collection, DSC nº 1228. © National Museum Collection/Yohana Frias (NMP)
The floral design in focus was made using the tapado (embossed)technique where initial stitches are made to form the bituka (intestines) of the leaf design, before putting satin stitches on top of it to make an embossed finish, woven in Kalibo, Aklan using piña-seda (pineapple and silk) fibers, embroidered in Lumban, Laguna using cotton threads.

References:

Carvalho, L. M.; Fernandes, F. M. & Zable, S. (2009) “The collection of Pineapple fibers – Ananas comosus (Bromeliaceae) – at the Harvard University Herbaria” Harvard Papers in Botany, 14, (2): 105-109. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250181924_The_Collection_of_Pineapple_Fibers-_Ananas_comosus_Bromeliaceae-at_the_Harvard_University_Herbaria

Collins, J.L. (1960) The pineapple: botany, cultivation and utilization, London, L. Hill.

Davis, M. (1991) “Piña fabric of the Philippines”, Arts of Asia, 21 (5): 125-129.

Ehrman, E. ed. (2018) Fashioned from Nature, Victoria and Albert Museum London.

Milgram, B. Lynne (2005) “Piña cloth, identity and the project of Philippine nationalism”, Asian Studies Review, 29 (3): 223-246.

Montinola, L. R. (1991) Piña, Amon Foundation, Manila.

Acknowledgement: Yohana Frias, Researcher at the National Museum of Philippines

“W” is for Wig. Vivi Lena Andersen, Ph.D., Museum Curator at the Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark

De español y mestiza, castiza, Miguel Cabrera, Mexico, 1763, Oil on canvas, 147 cm x 115 cm. Madrid, Museo de América, inv. 00006

“In Mexico, the Spanish method of dressing wigs is popular, although unlike black, which is the natural colour of Mexicans’ hair, they prefer blonde or light brown shades for wigs.  Furthermore, women also prefer these lighter colours, for hairpieces used in the front and back of their heads.”  (Translated from Jean de Monségur, 1709, chap. XL)

The most important task of a wigmakers job today is to make wigs for people who have lost their hair. It is a sensitive subject and task. The vast majority of people who lose their hair due to illness don´t want to be looked at. A good wig should be invisible, look natural and blend in. But the way wigs have been used and the reasons for using them have changed through time.

Wig, Human hair, circa 1660s, H. 28 cm, Diam. 22 cm, Museum of Copenhagen, inv. KBM 3827 FO205962

Wigs for men became fashionable in Europe during the 1600s. It was a fashion accessory alongside gloves and shoes used by both adult men and young boys, and the style changed from dark long, curly and voluminous to blond/grey, short, curls at the sides of the head and with a whip or a pouch at the neck.

The pictures show a wig from the 1660´s from the collection of Museum of Copenhagen. It was found at the recent Metro excavation at the City Hall Square. It is well preserved with the hair extensions still in place on the netting. Microscope analysis shows that it was made of human hair. It corresponds with the tales of wigmakers from the city visiting the country side to buy the long hair from farmer wives in order to have the best material to make their fine wigs. So perhaps the hair we see here in this wig originates from a lady that lived her life in the country side, though the wig was worn by a fine gentleman in the city?

Wig, Human hair, circa 1660s, H. 28 cm, Diam. 22 cm, Museum of Copenhagen, inv. KBM 3827 FO205962

The hair on this wig is dark brown. It wasn’t until the 1700s that they started to powder their wigs with flour to make them white. If you look closely you can see the wig also have a red nuance, but that probably stems from the acids in the soil which has affected the object during the centuries below ground. As I am writing this we are preparing new exhibitions for the Museum of Copenhagen. During the years we have unearthed several wigs during excavations around the centre of the Copenhagen. In the new gallery covering the history of Absolutism different types of wigs, extensions and hair decoration made of hair will be on display. To the observer it will probably look as if our ancestors preferred wigs of red hair, but the red color is in fact the result of a chemical reaction in the soil.

The uneven ends on this wig tell us that the former lengthy locks of hair were cut off before the rest was discarded. If the locks were long enough they might have been reused for a new wig or extensions. Or perhaps this wig is from the phase where the longhaired curly wigs were replaced by the short haired look? Nevertheless we appreciate these wigs in our collection as they bring us one step closer to the wearer of the wig, the maker of the wig and the one who provided the locks of hair for this fascinating accessory of the Absolutism.


De español y mestiza, castiza, Miguel Cabrera, Mexico, 1763, Oil on canvas, 147 cm x 115 cm. Madrid, Museo de América, inv. 00006

References:

The Past beneath our Feet, ed. Camilla Mordhorst, Vivi Lena Andersen & Katrine Andreasen Johnsen, Museum of Copenhagen, 2013.

Danske Dragter. Moden i 1700-årene, Ellen Andersen, The National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, 1977.

“M” is for Mantón de Manila: Spanish shawls of Asian origin and cross-cultural design influences. Laura Beltran-Rubio, MA Fashion Studies, Parsons School of Design, New York City (USA)

The mantón de Manila (Manila shawl) is one of the most symbolic elements of hispanic dress that, in recent history, has become an almost essential garment in museum collections of costume around the world. Traditionally made out of silk, Manila shawls are often embroidered with colorful floral motifs made out of silk threads and bordered with long, braided fringes.

Drawing on rice paper, Anonym, Peru, 0,275 m x 0,185 m. Madrid, Museo de América, Inv 1999/01/33

Continue reading “M” is for Mantón de Manila: Spanish shawls of Asian origin and cross-cultural design influences. Laura Beltran-Rubio, MA Fashion Studies, Parsons School of Design, New York City (USA)

“I” is for Identity: Clothing and Identity at the Presidio de San Francisco in the New Spanish World. Candice Ward, MA Student, California State University

As Spain expanded its empire in the late 1700s, it established institutions in Alta California. Four presidios acted as administrative centers to oversee missions, pueblos, and ranchos reales, or royal ranches. The Presidio de San Francisco was established as a response to the perceived threat of Russian and British invasion. It was New Spain’s northernmost outpost, and was relatively isolated. Supply ships were infrequent, arriving about once a year. However, before the San Francisco Presidio was established, the San Francisco peninsula was home to 10,000-20,000 indigenous people who spanned 55 tribes and spoke five languages. Continue reading “I” is for Identity: Clothing and Identity at the Presidio de San Francisco in the New Spanish World. Candice Ward, MA Student, California State University

“T” is for Cumbi Tapestries: Peruvian Textiles in the Spanish Colonial Home. Julia McHugh, Douglass Foundation Fellow in American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Textiles dominate the pages of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Peruvian inventories, dowries, receipts between merchants, and appraisals. In almost all cases, textiles, silver, and jewelry are assigned the highest prices and given the most detailed written attention in archival documents. Even with the introduction of other art forms, like painting, in the colonial period, textiles maintained a privileged position as luxury goods. Continue reading “T” is for Cumbi Tapestries: Peruvian Textiles in the Spanish Colonial Home. Julia McHugh, Douglass Foundation Fellow in American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“F” for fans made of feathered-flowers, birds and insects. Exoticism and frivolity in the consumption of fashionable objects traded between the New World and the Old World. Maria Cristina Volpi, Associate Professor School of Fine Arts, University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

The Atlantic trade of objects and people between Brazil and Europe as of the 16th century has contributed to the diversification and abundance of birds and bird feathers onto the European market, for the valuation of exotic animals, as well as for the introduction into Europe of new aesthetic ideas and color schemes inspired by American nature and feathers. Continue reading “F” for fans made of feathered-flowers, birds and insects. Exoticism and frivolity in the consumption of fashionable objects traded between the New World and the Old World. Maria Cristina Volpi, Associate Professor School of Fine Arts, University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

“B” for Bordados: An Exhibition of Embroidered Textiles from Mexico. Rebecca Devaney, MFA Textile Art and Artefact, National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Student in Haute-Couture Embroidery, Ecole Lesage, Paris.

Casta painting, De albarasado y mestiza, barsino, Miguel Cabrera, 1763, oïl on canvas, 131 cm x 103 cm. Madrid, Museo de América, Inv 00009.

Detail of European needlework technique introduced in the 18th century, Cecilia Mundo Rincon, Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas. Image copyright Rebecca Devaney.

When the Europeans arrived to Mexico in the 16th century, textiles was a highly developed and mastered craft amongst the indigenous people. Spinning and weaving were integral parts of daily life for girls and women and in the indigenous cosmovision textiles were protected by goddesses; the Aztecs revered Xochiquetzal, who was said to be the first to spin and weave thread on a backstrap loom and the Mayas believed that the Moon Goddess Ixchel was the patron of spinning and her daughter, Ichebelyax was the patroness of embroidery. Continue reading “B” for Bordados: An Exhibition of Embroidered Textiles from Mexico. Rebecca Devaney, MFA Textile Art and Artefact, National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Student in Haute-Couture Embroidery, Ecole Lesage, Paris.

“P” for Pattern Book: Norwich Textiles exported to Central and South America in 1763.

“There are other woollen fabrics coming from England, whose consumption is even more important than drapery. (…) All these fabrics are as highly esteemed in Mexico as they are in Spain (…). Indeed, some manufactured in France are even finer than those produced in Spain, but nevertheless those made in England are superior, as regards the variety of length, breadth and colour.” (Translated from Jean de Monségur, 1709, chap. XXXVII)

Pattern book, Norwich, 1763, worsted wool samples mounted on paper, 27 x 16 cm. London, Victoria and Albert Museum, given by Mrs Bland, 67-1885.

Continue reading “P” for Pattern Book: Norwich Textiles exported to Central and South America in 1763.

“F” for Feathers: Symbols of European Rulers in the Renaissance. Les plumes : symboles des rois de la Renaissance. Chloé Nevicato, MA in History and Anthropology, University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Dans l’imagerie de l’Amérique ibérique, la plume tient une place majeure. Pour les indiens de l’Amazonie, le mythe, dit de l’origine de la couleur des oiseaux, permet par exemple de comprendre les symboles des plumasseries. Un monstre cannibale ou un immense serpent, par exemple, semait alors la terreur parmi les hommes. Les oiseaux décidèrent de s’allier pour vaincre ce monstre. Après la victoire de ces derniers, ils se partagèrent la peau multicolore du monstre en guise de trophée. Ainsi, les oiseaux se distinguaient entre eux en arborant une ou plusieurs couleurs distinctives. Les aras, victorieux, ont donc un plumage multicolore. En s’inspirant de ce mythe, les Indiens utilisèrent les oiseaux et leur plumage pour penser la distinction sociale. En effet, le port des parures dépend chez les Indiens de critères circonstanciels (usage quotidien ou rituel particulier) et catégoriels (usage déterminé par le sexe, la classe d’âge ou la position rituelle).

Continue reading “F” for Feathers: Symbols of European Rulers in the Renaissance. Les plumes : symboles des rois de la Renaissance. Chloé Nevicato, MA in History and Anthropology, University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne.

“F” for Feather: Pre Hispanic Feather Textiles from Peru, Lena Bjerregaard, Centre for Textile Research, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)

Organic material remains for thousands of years, when there is no humidity, no light, no air. In the graves along the coast of Peru such conditions are present, and textiles, feathers, bone, straw etc. have been preserved for thousands of years. Continue reading “F” for Feather: Pre Hispanic Feather Textiles from Peru, Lena Bjerregaard, Centre for Textile Research, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)

“F” for Spanish Fashion: Fashion in Las Meninas by Velázquez in 17th century Spain. Amalia Descalzo Lorenzo, Professor of Culture and Fashion at ISEM Fashion Business School, Universidad de Navarra, Madrid

There is no doubt that the painting, universally known as “Las Meninas”, is the most famous work of Don Diego de Silva Velázquez (Seville, 1599-Madrid, 1660). This painting has been the subject of many studies but perhaps one aspect that has been overlooked by most scholars is the importance of the clothing, a protagonist in all the portraits that Velázquez painted.

Las Meninas, 1656, Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y, (Seville 1599-Madrid 1660), oil on canvas, 318 x 276 cm. Madrid, Museo nacional del Prado, Inv. P01174

In 1656 Velazquez painting “Las Meninas”. At this time, Spanish fashion is genuinely Spanish, unlike in the rest of Europe, which faithfully followed the fashions of the Court of Versailles, very different from the conceptual and aesthetic point of view to the Spanish one. In the painting, the Infanta Margarita is centre stage accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting, María Agustina Sarmiento and Isabel de Velasco as well as Maribárbola, a dwarf of German origin and Nicolasito Pertusato. The three ladies are luxuriously dressed, groomed and made up in the fashion of the court of the time in which the baroque “guardainfante” stands out. Continue reading “F” for Spanish Fashion: Fashion in Las Meninas by Velázquez in 17th century Spain. Amalia Descalzo Lorenzo, Professor of Culture and Fashion at ISEM Fashion Business School, Universidad de Navarra, Madrid

“T” for Trade: 18th century Handkerchiefs – The Swedish East India Company Trade. Viveka Hansen, Textile Historian, The IK Foundation, (UK)

The aim with this study is to focus on a small branch of the Swedish East India Company’s dealing in fabrics used for handkerchiefs. Observations from my earlier research related to Carl Linnaeus and his “Apostles”, a hand-written Swedish account book from one of the Company’s ships and preserved pieces of cloth will give some evidence for such goods. 18th century handkerchiefs seem overall to have been an accessory that was worn out – the most natural cause for its rarity – or dropped, used for various purposes as collecting insects/plants, given away or even stolen according to notations in some travelling accounts and journals from the 1740s to 1760s.

Map of Cadix, Dagbok hållen p. Resan till Ost Indien, Begynt den 18 octobr: 1746 och Slutad den 20 Juni 1749, Carl Johan Gethe. Stockholm, National Library of Sweden, M 280, p. 29. This map, illustrated in the East India traveller Carl Johan Gethe’s journal (1746-1749), is of the ideally sheltered harbour of the city of Cadix, where many of the Swedish East India Company ships lay at anchor in order to replenish their stores and carry out trade. The Linnaeus’ apostle Olof Torén’s first voyage stopped over there in 1748; the apostles Pehr Osbeck (1750) and Christopher Tärnström (1746) spent several months in Cadix and its environs on their way to China.

18th century handkerchiefs are sometimes mentioned in contemporary hand-written letters, travel journals or account books connected to the Swedish East India Company trade. Continue reading “T” for Trade: 18th century Handkerchiefs – The Swedish East India Company Trade. Viveka Hansen, Textile Historian, The IK Foundation, (UK)

“N” for New Habits: New Goods from the New World. Nadia Fernández de Pinedo, Associate Professor at the Department of Economic Studies, Universidad Autonóma, Madrid

Creoles take a lot of chocolate and atole but much better than the one made by the Indians.” (Translated from Jean de Monségur, 1709, chap. VII)

De español y negra, mulata, Casta painting, Andrés de Islas, 1774, oil on canvas, 75 x 54 cm. Madrid, Museo de América, Inv. 1980/03/04

De español y negra, mulata, Casta painting, Anonym, Mexico, c. 1775-1800, oil on copper, 36 x 48 cm. Madrid, Museo de América, Inv. 00053

Trading networks among Europe, Asia and America modified the habits of Europeans. Many patterns of consumption were the result of centuries of relations between East and West. The colonizers of territories determined the distribution of certain products and exotic luxuries were selectively adopt, from their indigenous origins to their worldwide consumption. Continue reading “N” for New Habits: New Goods from the New World. Nadia Fernández de Pinedo, Associate Professor at the Department of Economic Studies, Universidad Autonóma, Madrid

“L” for Lace: The variation of Taxation Schemes for Lace Import in the Ancien Regime. Marguerite Coppens, Honorary Curator Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels. Honorary Chair of the French Association of Textiles Studies (AFET), Paris

La dentelle, un des premiers produits d’exportation des Pays-Bas du Sud, était envoyée par voie de terre et de mer pour fournir toute l’Europe et, via Cadix et Séville, habiller les élégances des Indes occidentales. Cette exportation, vitale pour son économie, était évidemment encouragée : les dentelles étaient libres de sortie.

Portrait of a lady, Miguel de Herrera, 1782, oil on canvas, 125 x 101 cm. Mexico, Franz Mayer Museum Collection

Continue reading “L” for Lace: The variation of Taxation Schemes for Lace Import in the Ancien Regime. Marguerite Coppens, Honorary Curator Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels. Honorary Chair of the French Association of Textiles Studies (AFET), Paris

“S” for Shoes: A gendered shoe from 17th century-Copenhagen. Vivi Lena Andersen, Curator and Archaeologist at the Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark

Shoes were invented 40.000 years ago. Presumably for protection against extreme cold, hot or rocky surfaces and poisonous animals and plants, but shoes became much more than a simple garment for protection. It also became a tool for social survival. Continue reading “S” for Shoes: A gendered shoe from 17th century-Copenhagen. Vivi Lena Andersen, Curator and Archaeologist at the Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark

The Trade and the Culture of Clothing in the New Spanish Colonies 1600-1800