Chinese large scarves or shawls decorated with oriental motifs have been known since the 6th century B.C. Once the trade across the Pacific (Manila Galleon route) and the Atlantic (Indian fleet) was opened, ideas and products of all kind were introduced in Spain: goods, artistic trends and fashions from China, Japan and Philippines. Since the 18th century large scarves with images of dragons, birds (pheasants, cranes, geese and butterflies), plants and flowers (mainly camellias and chrysanthemums) began to be seen. These large scarves are known by the generic name of Manila shawls, name of the route of arrival of these goods in Europe. The shawl has been a popular garment, also used by the women of the high society. In recent years shawls have been used again, as a symbol of elegance in Spanish fashion.
The route from Europe to the East across the Pacific-Mexico-Atlantic was opened through Spain and goods began to be introduced in this country. Embroidered silk shawls, which were designated as Manila shawls, were part of these goods. They began to be widely used by the population and started to be part of popular dresses and dances, as well as of religious and profane festivals. Over time, they have drawn the attention of the wealthier classes and became part of the finest fashion. Now, as a hallmark of Spanish culture, Manila shawls are part of all kinds of artistic and literary events.
Key words: silk, hand embroidery, Camellia, Spanish silk toute, Ethnobotany, Manila Galleon, Granada maypole, 'Maya's feast.