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The History of the Shawl

The History of the Shawl

Kashmiri shawls were high-fashion garments in Western Europe in the early- to mid-19th century. Imitation Kashmiri shawls woven in Paisley, Renfrewshire are the origin of the name of the traditional paisley pattern. Shawls were also manufactured in the city of Norwich, Norfolk from the late 18th century (and some two decades before Paisley) until about the 1870s. 

Silk shawls with fringes, made in China, were available by the first decade of the 19th century. Ones with embroidery and fringes were available in Europe and the Americas by 1820. These were called China crêpe shawls or China shawls, and in Spain mantones de Manila because they were shipped to Spain from China via the port of Manila. The importance of these shawls in fashionable women's wardrobes declined between 1865 and 1870 in Western culture. However, they became part of folk dress in a number of places including Germany, the Near East, various parts of Latin America, and Spain where they became a part of Romani (gitana) dress especially in Andalusia and Madrid. These embroidered items were revived in the 1920s under the name of Spanish shawls. Their use as part of the costume of the lead in the opera Carmen contributed to the association of the shawls with Spain rather than China.

Some cultures incorporate shawls of various types into their national folk dress, mainly because shawls were much more commonly used in earlier times.

Shawls are used in order to keep warm, to complement a costume, and for symbolic reasons. One famous type of shawl is the tallit, worn by Jewish men during prayers and ceremonies. Today, shawls are worn for added warmth (and fashion) at outdoor or indoor evening affairs, where the temperature is warm enough for men in suits but not for women in dresses and where a jacket might be inappropriate.

At first, they were decorated with dragons, bamboo, or pagodas (typical "oriental" decorations). On their dimensions is significant to mention that owed - at least - to cover all the back and to arrive at the extreme of each arm, when these are located in position of cross with the bust. On the other hand is to emphasize that the more light be concocted, a lot better to be able to bear it comodamente on the body and to light up with more distinction upon performing movements or you figure (in this last case and more exactly, refers to its utilization generalized by the dancers (bailaoras) of flamenco).

The embroidered shawl is associated with the flamenco dance, although is a complement of the dress used also by the flamenco singers and besides, in some epochs, has been used like a routine token