© Fran Ros
The Fallas Parade, which took place on 20 October in Valencia, was a celebration of silk to accompany the Commission of Barrio Betero’s presentation of sketches. This event brought together authorities, Courts of Honor, Falleras Mayres, or Queens of Silk, many examples of the silk costumes, and above all the Falleras heading the 2018 Celebration, Rocio Gil and her Court of Honor.

The ancient Valencian Fallas celebration is one that can be compared to the ancient traditions such as those celebrating the arrivals of equinoxes and solstices. Such traditions have been inherited from ancient communities and have been communicated through methods of cultural exchange throughout the centuries. Such exchange has occurred in other parts of Europe as with the Celtic tradition and even prior to that from other traditions stemming from parts of Africa and Asia. Some historians believe that the Fallas celebration may be an ancient practice originating from Muslim people, or the natives before them, beginning as fires of spring and evolving into monuments we recognize in today’s festivities.

© Fran Ros

Because this celebration is centered around celebrating the silk industry in Valencia and the beautiful garments that are produced as a result, it allows all participants to reflect on the history of silk in the region. Having been introduced into the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, the fabric brought immediate success and spread throughout up until the 18th century, establishing the formerly known al-Andalus as a center for silk production.

So special the silk tradition has grown that the espolin, a jacquard-like silk woven pattern has developed as a specialty of the region. The espolin celebrates one year of its inscription into the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List in November 2016. Continuing the production of this special tradition in Valencia is Mr. Vicente Enguidanos, who has dedicated 50 years to the tradition of silk weaving in Valencia. The representatives of the commission Barrió Beteró and José María Chiquillo, the Spanish Focal Point for the Silk Roads Online Platform, honored him at the event. His recognition is important to remind everyone of the value of cultural exchange, preservation of cultural heritage, and how far silk weaving has traveled. This art has come to Valencia after hundreds of years, thanks to the Silk Roads, and still lives on.