Religious vestments and other textiles

Religious vestments and other textiles

A stole (also known as the orarium) is the name of a Christian liturgical vestment in the western Churches. The term derives from Latin stola, in the meaning of equipment, array, clothing. A stole consists of a long band of cloth that is about 250 x 10 cm in size, whose ends may be straight or broaden out.

The Treasury of the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic, holds a set of straw-made and embroidered  religious vestments. The garments include a chasuble, maniple and stole (C.k. 114, cat. no. 84). They are all made out of decoratively woven straw. In addition, the garments are embellished with stylised floral motifs outlined in straw (2ply, Z-spun), which have been couched down using what appears to be a linen thread.

The Sudbury pall, also called the Alderman's pall, is a fifteenth century ceremonial cloth that was draped over coffins in Sudbury (Suffolk, England). It was originally used in St. Gregory’s Church, Sudbury and was later moved to St. Peter’s Church in the same town. It is currently housed in the Ipswich Museum (Suffolk).  

The Syon Cope is a Christian liturgical vestment associated with Syon Abbey, Middlesex (England). It was made between 1300 and 1320. Copes are semi-circular outer garments, usually highly decorative, worn by priests on special occasions. The Syon Cope was made from a much larger chasuble.

S’Jacob’s christening veil is an embroidered net veil given to the Dutch family of s’Jacob in about 1821 by Princess Anna Paulowna (1795-1865), daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia and wife of (the future) King Willem II (r: 1792-1849) of the Netherlands.

A temple banner from Nepal. dated to the fifteenth century, is housed in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The banner measures 40,5 x 32 cm. The cotton banner is embroidered with silk thread and shows Vishnu and his consort, Lakhshmi, positioned on the eagle, Garuda.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a cotton temple panel from Nepal, dated to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, embroidered with silk, using brick, satin and chain stitch. The embroidery illustrates a mythological scene.

The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Munich, Germany; acc. no. T 17) houses a mitre (17.3 cm high) from England, which dates to about AD 1200. It bears representations of the Stoning of St. Stephen (reverse) and of the Murder of Thomas Becket (obverse). It is made of white silk, probably from the Middle East or Byzantium.

A tippet is a garment worn over the shoulders and around the neck. It is normally made out of a long, narrow piece of cloth, fur or similar material. It has been one of the religious garments in the Western world since at least the medieval period, but is also worn in secular situations.

A tokwi is a decorative Buddhist altar frontal used by Peranakan Chinese in Indonesia and Malaysia. The Peranakan Chinese are descendants of early overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, where they adopted various aspects of the indigenous cultures.

The Toledo cope, worked in England in the early fourteenth century in the tradition of Opus Anglicanum, is housed in the Catedral Primada de Santa Maria in Toledo. It is embroidered with foliage and birds, and features the Virgin Mary and saints. The scenes are framed by gothic arches. 

The Russian word ubrus (убрус) means a towel, napkin or cloth cover (such as a small table cloth).

The Vatican Museum houses a cope that was made in England in the late thirteenth century in the tradition of opus anglicanum. It has a red silk ground material, and is embroidered with gold and silver-gilt threads and silk. It measures 137.2 x 309.9 cm. Originally it was larger; it has been trimmed along the semi-circular edge. It is kept in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticano, Museo Sacro, acc. no. 2447.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses the so-called Veglia altar frontal, which was made in the early fourteenth century in Venice, Italy. It measures 107 x 277 cm. It is made of a red silk, with underside couching in metal and silk, and with coloured silk threads embroidered mainly with split stitch for the outlines and details.

The medieval tomb of Archbishop Hubert Walter in Canterbury Cathedral was opened in 1890. The tomb contained silver items and the remains of the garments in which the Archbishop had been buried. Hubert Walter was an important royal advisor in the time of Richard I (1157-1199) and his succesor, John (1166-1216). He accompanied Richard on the Third Crusade.

The Vic cope is an ecclesiastical vestment that used to be owned by the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Peter the Apostle, in Vic, Catalonia, Spain. It was acquired by the Museu Episcopal in Vic, in the late nineteenth century (acc. no. MEV 1430). The cope in its present composition has a height of 123 cm and is 324 cm wide. It dates to the third quarter of the fourteenh century.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a votive panel from China, which dates to the early fifteenth century. It measures 40 x 18 cm. It is made of silk with silk and metal thread embroidery.

St Peter's Church in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England, is one of the major wool churches in the Cotswolds. It houses an altar cloth that has been linked to the first wife of Henry VIII, namely Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536), who is thought to have stitched the cloth while she resided at nearby Sudeley Castle.

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