Religious vestments and other textiles

Religious vestments and other textiles

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses an embroidered orphrey cross from Germany, which dates to the early fifteenth century. The embroidery is worked with silk and gold thread embroidery, using satin stitch and couching on the linen ground material.

The Museum für Kunst and Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany, houses an Osterteppich ('Easter carpet') that has been dated to AD 1504 and was apparently made at Klosterlüne, Germany. It measures 450 x 420 cm and is made of linen and wool and embroidered with the Kloster stitch.

One of the various meanings of the English word 'pall' is that of a large cloth usually of black, purple or white velvet, which is spread over a coffin, hearse or tomb. This meaning came into general use by the mid-fifteenth century. Several embroidered palls from England from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have survived, including the Bakers’ Pall, the Fishmongers’ Pall, the Sudbury Pall and the Fayrey Pall.

Parament is a term used by some Christian groups, including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant communities, to describe decorative ornaments in a church, especially cloth forms such as banners and coverings. The word derives from the Latin paramentum (‘adornment’), a term used to describe the hangings or ornaments of a formal room.

In mid-nineteenth century England, the term pelerine referred to a waist-length cape that was often made of embroidered muslin, lace or net. In Germany and the Netherlands, a pelerine nowadays refers to a short cape that can be made of any material and was (is) used for both indoor and outdoor wear.

The Pienza cope is a medieval ecclesiastical cope now in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Pienza (Tuscany, Italy). The cope is believed to date from the early fourteenth century (1315-1335 according to the Princeton Index of Christian Art) and was given to the cathedral by Pope Pius II (r: 1458-1464). The cope has a broad orphrey and the remains of a hood.

The Georgian National Museum holds a podea that is dated to AD 1773. It measures 148.5 x 151 cm. It is embroidered with gold and silver thread.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds in its collection a fragment (c. 29 x 22.5 cm) of what has been suggested to be a pair of pontifical stockings/boots, worked in opus anglicanum. They were retrieved from a tomb in Worcester cathedral in 1861, believed to be that of Bishop Walter de Cantelupe (who died in AD 1266).

The wearing of the stole on the outside of a chasuble or cope by Catholic clergy is relatively recent and is accredited to the Dutch Atelier Stadelmaier company, based in Nijmegen: In the 1960's the atelier devised a new style of liturgical outfit known as the Nijmegen model (Nijmeegs model), which included an embroidered stole that was worn on the outside, over the chasuble or cope.

The collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London includes an Iranian, Qajar-period prayer mat. The mat measures 130 x 90 cm. The quilted mat has a yellow upper layer that is made of silk and cotton satin. It is decorated with silk thread using straight and running stitch (or back stitch?) and couching. The mat is padded and quilted with a cotton lining. The mat has a woven silk facing (edging).

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden houses a protective prayer cloth from Afghanistan. It measures 29.5 x 29 cm. It is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery. The techniques used are satin stitch and double running stitch. Such prayer cloths are used by Shi'ite muslims to protect the turbah (also called muhr), which they use when praying. It probably belonged to the (Shi'ite) Hazara population of the country.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses an embroidered protective prayer cloth, used to cover the stone that Shi'ite muslims apply for their three-times per day prayer. It measures 21.5 x 21.5 cm and is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery. The cloth is comparable to another example housed at the Textile Research Centre in Leiden.

A pulpit is the raised stand in a Christian church that is used during a liturgical service for sermons, readings, and so forth. A pulpit fall is a piece of cloth that hangs down in front of the pulpit. The pulpit fall is often decorated with embroidery of some kind and may come in a variety of different colours, depending on the time of the (liturgical) year and the occasion (a funeral, for example, may have a black pulpit fall).

During the 2012 renovations of the Sandys Row synagogue, Spitalfields, London, an embroidered bimah cover was found in the building’s cellar. A bimah is the elevated platform in the centre of a synagogue and is used to support the Torah while it is being read aloud to the congregation.

The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, houses an Iranian prayer rug with inlay patchwork in the Rasht tradition. It measures 195 x 133 cm and is made of wool and woollen inlays, with silk thread embroidery worked in chain stitch. A large representation of a cypress tree occupies the centre of the rug, placed on top of peacocks and dragon heads.

The Metropolitan Museum in New York holds a reliquary of St. Florian, which dates to the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries and originates from Austria. It measures 41.3 x 34.3 x 8.3 cm and is made of fabric with wax, glass, and with gold and silver thread embroidery.

The Sicilian Altar Frontal is an embroidered cloth in the collection of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (acc. no. 5428). It was made in Sicily and dates to AD 1684. It is 275 x 101 cm in size and was given to the cathedral in 1932. The frontal is made from linen that is embroidered with metal thread and silk chenille thread.

In 1827, the coffin of St. Cuthbert was opened, and in it were found, among other items (including the famous St. Cuthbert Gospel), the remains of a stole and maniple. The garments are nowadays recognised as the oldest extant medieval examples of English embroidery in the country.

The Steeple Aston cope dates from c. 1320. It is an example of opus anglicanum. It is decorated with coloured silks with silver and silver gilt thread on a fawn silk ground, woven in a twill weave. The remains of the cope belong to the Steeple Aston Church (Oxfordshire, England) and are now on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, since 1905.

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