Hildesheim Cope

The Hildesheim cope was made in Germany in the early fourteenth century. It has a canvas ground material made of linen, which is completely covered with needlework decoration. It measures 298  x 146 cm. The cope is particularly famous for the saints that are shown in gruesome detail with their particular method of martyrdom. The cope may derive from the St Simon and St Judas church, Goslar, Lower Saxony.

St Bartholomew the Apostle is shown being flayed alive; St Catherine of Alexandria tied to a wheel; St John the Evangelist placed in a tub on a fire; St Lawrence of Rome is being roasted on a grid iron; St Peter is being crucified upside down, St Sebastian being pierced by arrows, St Stephen being stoned, and even Thomas Becket is being illustrated. Others are shown being clubbed, stabbed or beheaded. The saints are shown inside a roundel, with alternately a red and a green ground. Together these roundels are formed into six-pointed stars. Between these stars there are blue dragons with red wings.

The embroidery is worked with polychrome silk threads using long and short stitch, and surface couched gold thread. At the top of the stars there are appliquéd golden rosettes worked with couched gold thread. The orphrey and small hood were added later.

The saints are either naked or dressed in long robes; the torturers are dressed in short tunics and sometimes with striped stockings, which in medieval iconography symbolised evil (see curatorial information, V&A Museum).

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 6th May 2017).


Last modified on Saturday, 06 May 2017 17:30