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women wearing mantilla at the Semana Santa in Sevilla, Spain.

A mantilla is a lace or silk scarf worn over the head and shoulders, often over a high comb, popular with women in Spain[1].

Contents

History

The lightweight ornamental mantilla came into use in the warmer regions of Spain towards the end of the sixteenth century, and ones made of lace became popular with women in the 17th and 18th centuries being depicted most notably in the portraits of Diego Velázquez and Goya. In the nineteenth century, Queen Isabel II (1833-1868) actively encouraged its use. The practice diminished after her death, and by 1900 the use of the mantilla became largely limited to special ceremonies, such as bullfights, Holy Week and weddings.

Peineta

A peineta similar in appearance to a large comb is used to hold up a mantilla. This ornamental comb, usually in tortoiseshell color, originated in the 19th century. It consists of a convex body and a set of prongs and is often used in conjunction with the mantilla. It adds the illusion of extra height to the wearer and also holds the hair in place when worn during weddings, processions and dance. It is a consistent element of some regional costumes of Valencia and Andalusia and it is also often found in costumes used in the Moorish and Gypsy influenced music and dance called Flamenco.

Usage in Catholicism

George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush in mantilla visit Pope John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo near Rome

In the Catholic Church, orthodox practice is for women to wear chapel veils and mantillas to church. This has declined since Vatican II, though traditionalist Catholics continue to use them, especially since Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Perhaps due to the promotion of the mantilla by Queen Isabel II, it became traditional for ladies to wear a mantilla when received in audience by the Pope, though other head coverings for women prevailed before it and after it. In the second half of the twentieth century its use declined markedly, though it is not completely out of use.

Irish presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, Soviet Union First Lady Raisa Gorbachev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all met popes without wearing mantillas.

Queen Sofía of Spain, as a Catholic Queen, exercised a royal privilege known as Privilège du blanc, an entitlement and royal privilege to wear white attire instead of black in the presence of the Pope. Only Roman Catholic queens and kings are allowed to have an audience with the Pope wearing white clothing, while the rest are advised and expected to wear black. At the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI and the Requiem Mass for John Paul II, she and Queen Paola of Belgium wore a white mantilla and a black mantilla, respectively.

In more recent times Laura Bush while visiting the Holy See in 2006, members of Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg during inauguration festivities, and Michelle Obama while visiting the Holy See in July 2009, wore mantillas.

See also

References

  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000

External links

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