We call them flamenco accessories, but it is in the details where the richness is hidden. A Manila shawl, a fan, or castanets are not mere ornaments. The dancer turns them into extensions of his movement, enriching his steps.
Thanks to these accessories, flamenco dancing expands its possibilities. Such is their value that, when a great artist leaves us, his manila shawl, his combs and his dresses or suits become flamenco relics.
That’s why today we tell you what are some of these flamencoaccessories and curiosities about their origin and use. Read on!
The Manila shawl
The Manila shawl, like flamenco, has passed through many cultures to become what it is today. Your origin can be traced back to the areas of Cantón and Macao, where the silk was used for thousands of years. From there it went to Philippines, and with the Spanish colonisation of the islands, Manila became the hub of trade between China and Spain, connected by the China-Spain trade route. Nao de China.
The shawls of the time were a status symbol among the Filipino mestizo women, who incorporated the silk scarf over their shoulders in their traditional costumes.
With the loss of the Philippine colony, the trade route was also lost, and European textile imports became more important. It is then that the oriental motifs disappear in the Manila shawl and the fringes appear. It also loses its aristocratic character and gradually penetrates the popular social classes, until it reaches flamenco.
With the revaluation of flamenco at international level, the shawl has become an object of high value for the dance and also for flamenco fashion.
Headdresses, combs and bracelets
These elements have a greater decorative weight than the fan, the shawl or the castanets. However, it is essential accessories to enhance flamenco dancing. Depending on how these elements are used, they can be used to convey elegance, baroque, sensuality and joy, etc. After all, flamenco is a culture that encompasses many disciplines, including fashion and aesthetics.
Flamenco accessories that won’t go away: the fan
The fan is an element that has always been used to communicate. At ancient social events, depending on how the fan was used, women could indicate to others their marital status, whether they were interested in a person, whether they were angry or sad, whether they had fallen in love, and so on.
Its origin is similar to that of the shawl: made in China, marketed to the European upper classes and finally integrated into all social classes. It is not surprising that the fan was adopted by flamenco, since in Andalusia, the flamenco region par excellence, it became an essential object to combat the heat. It was only a matter of time before the fan was incorporated into the dance.
If we retrace the steps of the Flemish castanets, we reach the Phoenicians. At that time, bronze castanets called “crótalos” were used, which produced a metallic beat ideal for religious rites. Picked up by classical music, they end up being part of popular festivals and become a typical instrument of the various regional musics.
In flamenco, castanets are used for the most joyful palos, such as sevillanas, but also for the more sober palos, such as fandango or seguiriya.
A curiosity of the castanets is that they are not two identical pieces, but one marks a higher pitch and the other is lower. The bass is held with the left hand to mark the rhythm, and the treble is used with the right hand to accompany the marking.
The dancer Marta Ortiz uses these accessories for an aesthetic composition that helps her to transmit her art. In this video you have some scenes to check it out and, in the link below, the link to see the whole show in ALL FLAMENCO. Promising young talents also perform choreographed by the dancer, elaborate dances of classic flamenco palos.