The Mangano

The Mangano, the machine used in this shop is unique in the world.

Mangano means "machine that produces strength" and it is a wheel press built in 1633 in order to smooth, stretch and luster fabric, making it compact.

Machines similar to the Mangano were already known in the third century B.C. thanks to Filone da Bisanzio. In the past they were used in different fields: they were applied to mechanics by the Romans and in the Middle Ages they became war machines. At the time of the Industrial Revolution in England they were used as levers in water mills or to extract coal from mines.

Wheels such as the Mangano were widely described and depicted by Leonardo da Vinci in his design projects and they were also to be seen in paintings by Bruegel.
The Mangano operates thanks to the balance between a wheel and a huge rock at its side. The wheel acts as a lever and moves the rock which has the important task to stretch and smooth the fabric. Both weigh exactly 55 tons and, because of this perfect balance in weight, the Mangano turns as soon as a person enters the wheel: with his/her weight he/she interferes with the original balance and therefore he/she causes the rock to be lifted. The fabric is then wound around rollers of wood called "subbi". The rollers are positioned below the rock and follow the same movement of the stone, back and forth, allowing for the ironing of the fabric. This is called "follatura". The same process is still used today: before and after printing the fabric a person enters the wheel and turns it in order to embellish fabrics and to get excellent results.

Roman Civil Engineering and ... The Mangano

The Romans excelled in civil engineering (mining, construction of bridges, roads, aqueducts, imposing palaces, circuses, theaters, etc. ..).
Since the first century B.C. a large number of slaves throughout the empire has been the foundation of the economic fortune of the rich patrician Roman families. Even the machines were designed to exploit this source of wealth. Take, for example, the capstan ( Argano in Italian), a simple rotating machine used to apply force to another element. By turning the wheel, the rope, wound around a cylinder, dragged or liftted a weight. The heavier the weight the larger the wheel, therefore, the greater the number of slaves employed.
A striking example of this is the huge capstan sculpted in a relief representing a group of slaves on the wheel from the Gregorian Profane Museum in Rome. The MANGANO originates from such machines and it is a capstan that uses weights and cylinders to give fabrics or drapes a moire (or moiré) finish: the shiny wavy appearance typical of silk.

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Contact Details

  • Stamperia Artigiana Marchi
    via Cesare Battisti, 15
    Santarcangelo di Romagna (RN)
    47822 - Italy

    Phone and Fax +39 0541 626018

    e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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