Lace is a fabric sewn of mesh, stitches, or open weaves with flowers, figures or other works and is made using wooden spools on which the thread is rolled, sewing needles, crochet hooks or sometimes with a machine. The fabric is made by interweaving the thread from the spools to form twists and other stitches. To create the lace, the seamstress uses a pattern made of paper or cotton with a design of lines and stitches. The pattern was placed on the pincushion and held in place with pins.
The different kinds of stitches have names such as claro, brusela, araña, mosca, margarita and almagro. The seamstress combines these different stitches with twists, braids or knots to form the pattern. The lace produced may be used to adorn handkerchiefs, collars, booties and clothing for infants, as well as guayabera shirts and wedding dresses, tablecloths, etc.
Some scholars believe lace was first produced in Flanders during the Middle Ages. Others suggest it originated in Egypt between the 6th and 7th centuries, or in Italy or France. It is believed to have arrived in Spain from one of those sites. Others say it came to Flanders from Spain, as Flanders was under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It is possible it came to Puerto Rico from Spain, though another theory suggests that Haitian residents brought it with them in the 19th century.
It proliferated particularly in the towns of Moca, Isabela and Aguadilla. Some scholars have found evidence that stores selling mundillo lace made by seamstresses from Moca and surrounding areas were in existence shortly after the town was founded (1772). Mundillo lace was also distributed in Aguadilla and Mayagüez.
Lace making is a laborious and delicate task that takes a lot of time, and thus lace was expensive. The clergy could assume the costs and they commissioned mundillo works for their vestments and for the outfits worn by the figures of saints. It was also used to adorn clothing for infants and wedding dresses, among other uses.
In Puerto Rico, seamstresses historically made mundillo to order, working at home. In the 1940s, a law stipulated that seamstresses had to work in factories. This law affected the production of the handwork. With the efforts of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and others interested in preserving this part of the island's heritage, however, lace making, along with other traditional crafts, has not been forgotten. Workshops have been created to teach lace making to people interested in learning the art.
Today, seamstresses exhibit and sell their creations at artisans' fairs and festivals. In 2004, the Mundillo Museum was inaugurated in Moca, the municipality considered the "Mundillo Capital."
Martínez, Elena. "The Queen of Mundillo: Rosa Elena Egipciaco". Voices 29 (2003). Web.
Santiago, Annie. Imaginación, hilos y espacios: el encaje de mundillo en Puerto Rico. Catálogo de exhibición. San Juan, P. R. : Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos Dra. Josefina Camacho de la Nuez de la Universidad del Turabo, 2010. Impreso.
Portal del Mueso del Mundillo en Moca.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: June 22, 2010.