Description: "Cope with silk fringe covered in embroidery depicting figures of saints undergoing various forms of martyrdom."

Origin: Germany
Period: 14th-15th century
Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Museum number: 17-1873
Object number: O113500

Current Museum page:

Current Museum Raw Record info:

Original catalog description:
"Cope, of canvas, embroidered with coloured silks in short stitches, taken in the same manner as those sometimes called cushion stitches. The design consists of series of circles intersecting one another so as to form six pointed star shapes separated by spaces between the points, of oval cuneiform or shuttle shape. In these small spaces are blue dragons with red wings. At the points of the star shapes are rosettes worked in gold thread and applied (applique). The star shapes are alternately filled in with red and green grounds, and each contains figures of saints undergoing various forms of martyrdom. The orphreys along the front and down the centre of the back are woven in diaper of red and gold silk with purple and green angular ornaments (fylfots) arranged in rectangular compartments. small pointed hood of canvas, embroidered with red and yellow silks in close-lying short stitches with rectangular devices is attached to the orphrey. The border is fringed with coloured silks. (Colln of the Bp. of Hildesheim).
German. 14th centy. L. 9 ft. 4 1/2 in., W. 4 ft. 9 1/2 in.
17.-1873." (Cole: 172)

Personal Observations:
I only had a short time with the cope, and it was only one of several pieces pulled out of the Museum's reserve collection, so I did not make detailed notes; but I did note colors and thread count. Worth noting is that most if not all the outlining was done in what I assume to be stem stitch in black silk, which has now disintegrated almost completely; this means that the original cartoon/design lines are visible on the ground fabric. The process seems to have been:
     1. Either draw the design on the ground fabric directly, or transfer it from a sketch.
     2. Do the outlines in stem stitch
     3. fill in the backgrounds with solid colors and the figures with patterns, as desired
Given the size of the cope, it almost has to be made up of several pieces, but other than the center decorative band, there are no obvious places where piecing might have been done.

Fabric count: 36 count fabric (Based on personal observation)

Colors noted (Matched to DMC sample card):
    Overall background: Green (DMC 469), Gold (DMC 729) Note: The description refers to this as red, I'm matching to the current, possibly faded color.
    Dragons: White (DMC 322), Light Blue (DMC 3747)
Cole, Alan S. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Collections of Tapestry and Embroidery in the South Kensington Museum. London: Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode for H.M. Stationery Off., 1888.{}