These are the flamenco accessories that every flamenco lover should know
Flamenco dancers use the complements to emphasize the movements of the dance. Discover the most important ones.
We call them "accessories" because you can dance flamenco even barefoot. But it is in the details where the richness is hidden. A manila shawl, a fan or castanets are not mere accessories. The dancer turns them into extensions of his movement, into new limbs. Thanks to these accessories, flamenco dancing expands its possibilities. Such is their value that, when a great artist leaves us, his or her manila shawl, his combs and his dresses or suits become flamenco relics.
That's why today we tell you about some of these flamenco accessories and curiosities about their origin and use. Keep reading!
The Manila shawl, like flamenco, has passed through many cultures to become what it is today. Its origin goes back to the areas of Canton and Macao (China), where silk was used for thousands of years. From there it went to the Philippines, and with the Spanish colonization of the islands, Manila became the hub of trade between China and Spain, connected by the Nao de China trade route.
Shawls at the time were a status symbol among Filipino mestizo women, who incorporated the silk scarf over their shoulders into their traditional costumes.
With the loss of the Philippine colony, the trade route was also lost, so European textile imports became more important. It is then when the Manila shawl lost its oriental motifs and the bangs appeared. It also lost its aristocratic character and began to penetrate the popular social classes, until it reached flamenco.
With the revaluation of flamenco at an international level, the shawl has become an object of the highest value for dance and also for flamenco fashion.
The fan is an element that has always been used to communicate. In ancient social events, depending on how the fan was used, women could indicate to others their marital status, if they were interested in someone, if they were angry or sad, if they had fallen in love, etc.
Its origin is similar to that of the shawl: made in China, marketed among 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 of Spain, 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 flamenco castanets, we will arrive to the Phoenicians. At that time, bronze castanets called "crotals" were used, which produced a metallic beat ideal for religious rites. Picked up by classical music, they ended up being used in popular festivals and became a typical instrument of the various regional musics.
In flamenco, the castanets are used for the most joyful palos, such as the sevillanas, or the more sober palos, such as the fandango or the seguiriya.
A curiosity of the castanets is that they are not two identical pieces, but one is higher pitched and the other is lower. The low one is held with the left hand to mark the rhythm, and the high one is used with the right hand to accompany the marking.
Headdress, combs and flamenco bracelets:
These elements have a greater decorative weight than the fan, shawl or castanets. However, they are essential accessories to enhance flamenco dancing. Depending on how these elements are used, they can be used to transmit elegance, baroque, sensuality, joy, etc. After all, flamenco is a culture that encompasses many disciplines, including fashion and aesthetics.