Posted by: efsacco | October 23, 2006

Mundillo en Puerto Rico / Bobbin lace in PR

I am currently working on a study of traditional Puerto Rican bobbin lace making, known as mundillo.

Mundillo is a practice with a two-hundred year-old history that involves invasions, migrations and social changes that impacted society, gender and technology. Moca, a small town on the west side of Puerto Rico, is considered El Capital del Mundillo.

What I enjoy most about the history of mundillo is that it affords a means of making the labor of women visible, not only through text, but through the oral histories that I have been collecting. It involves narratives of survival, skill and of knowledge passed on through family members or associates.

This practice is not restricted to women, however. There are men who make lace, just as there are women who are instrument makers (guitars, cuatros, etc.) or santeras, carvers of saints. Often, mundillo is a family affair, with women making lace on mundillos using bolillos- the lap boxes and wooden bobbins used to create the lacework- made by men. Often, women (or men) were taught by their mothers, grandmothers or aunts.

In the 18th-19th centuries, needlework was the purview of accomplished young women, and in Puerto Rico, needlework was taught in private schools run by nuns of the Catholic Church. Mundillo also became part of this education by the early 2oth century. The waves of immigration to Puerto Rico brought many people from countries with a lace tradition– Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Corsica, Malta, Germany among other places. During the late 18th century, the slave uprisings on Saint Domingue, and later, the Real Cedula de Gracias of 1815 brought many persons from France who settled on the west side of the island. Mundillo was also practiced in Cuba, and while the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Santo Domingo were under Spanish rule, administrators and their families moved from one island to another to undertake government appointments during the nineteenth century. The blending of traditions continued.

There is a Museo del Mundillo in Moca, of which I am the Curator. You can visit the museum’s webpage at http://www.museodelmundillo.org

 

It’s estimated that some 9,000 persons across Puerto Rico make mundillo.

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Responses

  1. I born in Corozal, PR but I am Living in Colorado springs, Co. I want to learn MUNDILLO. Will you please ttell me where I can buy the box, the equipment? If there are book?

  2. Gloria,
    Perhaps you can contact Don Benito ‘Mokay’ Hernandez Vale of the Museo del Mundillo in Moca. The museum sells the telar and bobbins as do local artisans; he has a contact list for them. Thread can be purchased from LACIS in Berkeley. LACIS (http://www.lacis.com) carries a wide variety of threads. Books are harder to come by, but we are basically talking about bobbin lace and specific repertoire of stitches that are traditionally used in PR. There are series of course books published in Spanish, and the Museo might have them. Then there’s a publication from Spain, La Encajera which is also popular among lacemakers in PR. Another source of info- The Boriquen Lacers of the San Juan Area. I’ll send Don Benito’s number to you in an email.
    Thanks so much for reading my blog!

  3. hello. im interested in discussing a project im working on with you involving mundillo.
    do you have an email I can contact you at? thank you, carlos


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