Woman's rebozo (shawl) with figural design - ROM2014_14330_46


Woman's rebozo (shawl) with figural design

Medium:Cotton and silk tabby embroidered with silk and silver filé in darning, satin, and rope stitch; elaborately plaited and knotted fringes forming points at both ends
Geography: Mexico
Date: 1775 - 1800
212 x 74.5 cm
Object number: 979.141.1
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Newcomb
Not on view

This extremely rare rebozo, woven on a backstrap loom and finished with a six-point fringe, is richly embroidered. Figures engage in scenes of courtship, marriage, and warfare. These narrative designs were likely influenced by embroidered textiles made for export in China and the Philippines, which had a profound effect on Mexican needlework during this period. In the centre is a wedding scene (top left) and various armed soldiers ready for combat. Some of the threads have been eaten away over time by iron in the black dye.

The Mexican rebozo has become a symbol of femininity and nationhood. Its origins probably lie with the spread of Christianity, which required women to cover their heads in church. Art from the 19th century shows Mexican women of all classes wearing rebozos. For some, rebozos were costly works of art. But for the majority, they were practical as well, sheltering the wearer from sun or cold, and enabling her to nurse a baby or transport heavy loads.


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