It’s great that there are so many practitioners across the island. However, they are not interchangeable. Each person brings something unique to it. There is such a thing as poorly made lace.
During tours i’ve given at the Museo del Mundillo, folks seem surprised at the estimated number of 9,000 lacemakers. That in itself surprises me! They’ve come to Moca thinking that there are two little old ladies left making lace, when actually, there are many practitioners.
The art of mundillo crosses age and gender. The Director, Don Benito Hernandez Vale has initiated programs to teach mundillo in the schools of Barrio Las Marias that combines mundillo and adult education, so that people can learn it while getting a GED. We can conserve tradition, while strengthening the community. Many women have spoken to me about the therapeutic value of mundillo, how it allows one to lose oneself in its rhythmic and repetitive movements. For others, it’s value is social- the innovation of the lap box or telar allows one to sit together with others, sitting and making lace.
Moca was founded in 1772, and the origins of mundillo are rather hazy. As most of the island’s first centuries were as a military colony, lace was probably not high on the list of things to do, and it was imported. If you look at paintings by Jose Campeche y Jordan (23 Dec 1751-7 Nov 1809), there’s lace on the uniforms, metal lace for the dressings, the buttons. Lace decorates the clothing of women, but where was it from exactly? Its difficult to determine, but I am on the path.