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Embroidered Coif (Unassembled)

Artist/maker unknown, English

Made in England, Europe

c. 1580s

Linen plain weave with silk and gilt thread embroidery in outline, chain, twisted chain, plaited braid, straight, couching, knotted, and detached buttonhole filling stitches and bullion knots; gilt spangles

8 x 16 1/2 inches (20.3 x 41.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1967

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Coifs, or caps, were worn by women when entertaining at home from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. This coif’s scrolling vine motif was influenced by “Tree of Jesse” designs from opus anglicanum. The “Jesse” pattern was inspired by a passage from the Book of Isaiah, which details the Messiah’s lineage, starting with Jesse of Bethlehem, father of King David. To assemble this coif, the embroidery would be folded in half and stitched across the top and secured with a drawstring closure on the bottom. When worn, the assembled coif would form a point at the woman’s forehead.