Religious vestments and other textiles

Religious vestments and other textiles

The so-called 'Chemise of St Balthild' is preserved at the Musée Alfred Bonno, Chelles (Seine et Marne, near Paris), in France. It dates to the mid-first millennium AD and is attributed to an Anglo-Saxon slave girl who became the wife of the Frankish king, Clovis II. Balthild of Ascania died c. 680 in a convent that she had founded at Chelles (the later Abbaye de Notre Dames des Chelles).

The so-called Chichester-Constable chasuble is now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It was made in England, in the opus anglicanum tradition, in the mid-fourteenth century. It measures 129.5 x 76.2 cm. It used to be larger, but was cut to its present (fiddle) shape in the sixteenth century to conform to contemporary fashion. Some of the off-cuts were used to make a stole and a maniple.

The Clare chasuble is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It probably dates to the late thirteenth century. It is claimed that the blue ground material originates from Iran or China. It is made of a silk warp and a cotton weft woven in a satin weave. The garment is embroidered with silver-gilt, silver, and coloured silk threads, using underside couching, split stitch and laid work.

A cope is a Christian ecclesiastical vestment in the form of a long mantle or cloak, which is open down the front and fastened at the chest with a band or clasp (morse). The earliest European references to copes used by clergy appear to date to the eighth century AD, but it was not until the twelfth century that elaborate copes became a standard part of the Western ecclesiastical dress.

The Cope of St Louis d'Anjou is a medieval garment now in the Basilica of Saint Marie Magdalena in the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France. The cope is closely linked to the history of the basilica, the construction of which started in the late thirteenth century, but it was never finished.

There is a medieval cope associated with St. Boniface. It is now in Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, The Netherlands (acc. no. ABM t2341). It is sometimes described as being embroidered. However, no decorative needlework appears to have survived. The museum has dated the ground cloth of the cope to between AD 1190-1209 and suggests an Eastern Mediterranean (possibly Egypt) origin.

The Cope of St. Kunigunde is an eleventh century ecclesiastical garment that is now in the Diocesan Museum, Bamberg, Germany.

The Kaiserliche Schatzkammer in Vienna, Austria, houses a remarkable cope that dates to the early fifteenth century and was produced in the southern Netherlands or beyond. It is worked in the or nué technique, with couched gold thread embroidery. This technique was popular in The Netherlands in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The cope measures 164 x 330 cm.

The qalansuwa is a black hood that covers the head and neck's back of a Coptic monk or nun in Egypt. It is associated with a monastic professional of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is officially called a koulla (Coptic; but the word itself is wide-spread in the Middle East), but by the end of the twentieth century it was commonly referred to as a qalansuwa (Arabic).

The Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden houses a Coptic monk's hood, called a qalansuwa (TRC 2001.0248). It measures 53 by 23.5 cm and is made of synthetic material and embroidered with cotton thread. The embroidery is worked in cross stitch and herringbone stitch and show thirteen crosses.

A dalmatic is a garment used as a Christian Church liturgical vestment. It takes the form of a long, wide-sleeved garment, often open at the sides, having become almost identical with the tunicle. The colour of the dalmatic varies according to when it is worn within the Church calendar (see: Christian liturgical colours).

The so-called Dalmatic of Charlemagne is held in the Treasury Museum of the Vatican Basilica. However, it is neither originally a dalmatic, nor was it ever worn by Charlemagne. It is probably an imperial garment (a sakkos), made of silk, from the Byzantine empire, and perhaps of an eleventh century date (other scholars suggest a fourteenth century date).

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a Daoist gown from China, dating to the seventeenth century. It is made of silk satin, and decorated with silk and gold threads. The gown is square in shape, without sleeves, and with a hole for the head.

The Daroca cope (also known as the Madrid cope) is a famous example of medieval opus anglicanum, which is housed in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, Spain. The cope shows scenes from the Creation of the World and Fall of Adam and Eve. It is an exceptional example of opus anglicanum, since scenes from the Old Testament are rarely depicted in medieval embroidery from England. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a decorative pendant made of silk and metal thread embroidery on a silk satin back material. It measures 65 x 30.5 cm and has been dated to the early fifteenth century, in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin holds a dervish cap from Tabriz, Iran. It has a circumference of 56 cm and is 14 cm high. It is made of silk, wool and metal thread. The main embroidery parts are worked in chain stitch. It dates to the early twentieth century or before.

A dossal is a decorative cloth displayed on the back of some Christian altars. The word dossal (dossel) derives from the medieval Latin dossale/dorsale (from dorsum, ‘back’). In traditional Catholic and Anglican churches, the altar is covered with various textiles including the frontal and laudian, which cover the front of the altar. The back of the altar is covered with the altar dossal or simply the dossal.

The British Museum in London houses a goat's skull from among the Turkmen in Southwest Asia. It is covered with cotton cloth and embroidered with cotton threads. Embroidered goat's skulls seem often to occur with the Turkmen, and particularly with the Yomuts. The decoration includes black and pink floral designs, and multi-coloured plaited threads are wound around the horns. The eyes of the goat are also embroidered.

The Etheldreda Banner was worked in 1910 by Miss Yams of Bayswater. St. Etheldreda (Æthelthryd, or Audrey) was the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia. She founded the abbey church of Ely in 672. She died in c. 680 from a tumour in the neck; after that, on St. Audrey's day (23 June), (cheap) lace necklaces were sold (Saint St. Audrey's lace), hence the word 'tawdry'. The banner is still used during processions at Ely Cathedral.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses the so-called Fayrey Pall. This funeral pall measures 255 x 134 cm and was made in England between 1470 and 1530. It is made of red, silk velvet (probably originating from Italy) and embroidered with silk and metallic thread. It has a metallic fringe.

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