Italian chasuble, 15th century, with embroidered orphrey. Italian chasuble, 15th century, with embroidered orphrey. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 329-1908.

An orphrey is an applied decorative band, usually richly embroidered, on a Christian ecclesiastical vestment, such as a copechasuble or dalmatic. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the term orphrey derives from the Old French orfreis (mod. orfroi), from the medieval Latin auriphrygium, which comes from Latin aurum (gold) and Phrygius (Phrygian). Compare Dutch: aurifries.

Orphreys may be applied in different forms, as a simple decoration at the front and sometimes also the back of a garment, but also in the shape of a cross or Y-form across the shoulders.

See also: bishops carrying regaliagold embroidered orphrey from the Netherlands; orphrey cross


  • OWEN-CROCKER, Gale R. (2012). 'Orphrey', in: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth and Maria Hayward (eds.), Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, 450-1450, Leiden: Brill, p. 400.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Orphrey'.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 9 July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 08 March 2017 17:55
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