PHILIP IV.

BAN ON WOMEN’S ‘VEILING’

PHILIP IV. Prematica en que su magestad manda, que ninguna muger ande tapada, sino descubierta el rostro...

Madrid, Pedro Tazo, 1639

£2,250.00

A most interesting, scarce piece of legal ephemera concerning a C16 and C17 fashion called ‘tapado’ or ‘veiling’, by which women walked around in public with their faces covered, except for the eyes. ‘El tapado’ was first prohibited in 1586, targeting especially Morisco women wearing the Muslim veil; by 1639, when the fashion had spread to Christian women, the law had been re-stated 4 times, with increasing fines. 

A most interesting, scarce piece of legal ephemera concerning a C16 and C17 fashion called ‘tapado’ or ‘veiling’, by which women walked around in public with their faces covered, except for the eyes. ‘El tapado’ was first prohibited in 1586, targeting especially Morisco women wearing the Muslim veil; by 1639, when the fashion had spread to Christian women, the law had been re-stated 4 times, with increasing fines. ‘El tapado’ possibly originated in Morisco women’s use of the Castilian mantle, instead of the Muslim ‘almalafa’, which was copied and ‘customised’ by Spanish women. The concern of contemporary legislators was not the potentially Muslim origin of this fashion, as much as the way in which it made women’s faces unidentifiable. This decree was directed towards women of all ranks, no matter what privileges derived from their husbands’ rank or office. The fines went from 3,000 maravedis for the first offence (plus the seizing of the veil) to 10,000 for the second, as well as additional fines according to the status and wealth of the accused. The law was advertised publicly with trumpet players and town criers, so that everyone would know. The veil – ‘an instrument of anonymity and an emblem of its dangers’ in the thriving urban life – was especially widespread in Seville, Madrid and Lima, cities which also ‘generated the most representations of tapadas, and veiled ladies, in turn, became defining features of the cities themselves’ (Bass, p.102). Albeit frequently targeted at the time, ‘el tapado’ was also short-lived, leaving only a few traces in literature, plays and illustrated broadsides. A most interesting document to a fashion with roots in Muslim-Christian relations.

Only Harvard Law and Chicago copies recorded of this ed.

USTC 5006949 (one of three 1639 eds, priority not established); Williamson 40804; Palau 235470. L. Bass et al., ‘The Veiled Ladies of the Early Modern Spanish World\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\', Hispanic Review, 77 (2009), pp. 97-144; A. Wunder, ‘Women’s Fashions and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Spain\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\', Renaissance Quarterly, 68 (2015), pp. 133-86.
Stock Number: L4437 Category: