Rare Pineapple Fibre Cloth (Pina) Shawl or Head Covering (Panuelo) with Sombrado Work Spanish Colonial Philippines 19th century
length: 111cm, height: 51cm
This fine triangular shawl (panuelo) which also could be worn as a headcloth is made of embroidered pina or pineapple fibre. It has scalloped edging and is embroidered with flowers and leafy sprays in a difficult and painstaking technique known as sombrado or shadow-stitch work whereby fine designs are executed in pina lace and then attached to the broader shawl using embroidery stitch.
The shawl would have been worn by an aristocratic Philippines' lady around the shoulders or over the head, particularly in church.
It was collected in the Philippines around 1920 and ins in perfect condition. Pina cloth was the essence item of luxury and elegance in nineteenth-century Philippines. It is a unique fabric woven from fibres of the leaves of the Spanish Red or Native Philippine Red Pineapple (actually indigenous to South America)and is the finest of all Philippine fabrics. Indeed, the cloth here has an airiness and a lightness that makes it lighter than silk. Pina was an expensive textile to produce. The process of extracting the pineapple plant fibres was laborious as was the knotting and weaving. As such it was worn by the wealthy mestiza and aristocratic only.