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Burse (c. 1750)

Burse of a catholic priest for carrying wafers (the corporal). Netherlands, mid-18th century. Burse of a catholic priest for carrying wafers (the corporal). Netherlands, mid-18th century. Courtesy Rijksmuseum Amsterdam acc. no. BK-1958-29.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a burse or bag from the mid-eighteenth century that was perhaps used by a Catholic priest to transport the wafers (corporal). The burse measures 15 x 11 x 11 cm and is made of light blue taffeta decorated with multi-coloured embroidery of floral motifs with the crowned initials MR on one side and the letters IHS (the first three Greek letters of the name of Jesus) on the other.

The embroidery is worked with floss silk in satin stitch, with an applied silver thread braid. The bottom of the burse is embroidered with a cross.

The word 'burse' is derived from Latin bursa for 'hide', 'bag', from which the meaning developed of 'bag' and 'purse'. It is the receptacle for the transport of the corporal. The burse in the form of a small bag dates to the (late) medieval period and later.

See also a burse panel with opus anglicanum from the early fourteenth century, England.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam online catalogue (retrieved 19 June 2016).

WV

Last modified on Saturday, 25 February 2017 20:15