Manila shawl (also known as Manton de Manila) owned and worn by Violet Vanbrugh. It was a gift to her, and is believed to have been purchased in the Philippines and made circa 1920-1940. Violet was born Violet Augusta Mary Barnes in 1867, an English actress she took the stage name Vanbrugh, which was made famous by her younger sister Dame Irene Vanbrugh who followed Violet's footsteps to also become an actress. Following Violet's death in 1942, the shawl was given to her daughter Prudence VanBrugh.

The Manila shawl originated in China, and the colours and embroidery techniques used still retain associations with China. In the 16th Century these shawls began to be imported to Spain via the port of Manila in the Philippines (then a Spanish colony), which is where the shawl acquired its name. As the popularity of the shawls grew in Spain, the Chinese makers adapted the shawl to suit Spanish tastes changing traditional pagodas and dragons motifs for flowers and birds. It was in Spain that the fringe was added and the shawls began to be made in Spain and South America as well as China.

Physical Description

Square manila shawl in beige silk with coloured silk satin stitch embroidery in an all-over pattern of flowers, leaves and exotic birds. All around the shawl is a wide knotted fringe in rayon threads in beige. The embroidery is in shaded, subdued colours of blue, brick-red, beige, lilac, yellow, dark red, pale green.

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