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Coif and forehead cloth

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1575-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-sewn and hand-embroidered

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This coif and forehead cloth are embroidered in coloured silks and embellished with silver-gilt thread. The pattern of scrolling stems bearing a variety of flowers, fruits, birds and insects is characteristic of dress and accessories in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Surviving coifs and foreheads in matching patterns and inventories that list them together, suggest that these items of headwear were worn at the same time. However, it is still unclear just how the forehead cloth was worn, as there are very few portraits illustrating both.

Physical description

A coif and forehead cloth of linen embroidered with silk thread in shades of pink, red, blue, green, yellow and purple, in detached buttonhole stitch and silver-gilt thread in plaited braid stitch. The pattern consists of silver-gilt scrolling stems bearing coloured leaves, roses, strawberries, foxglove, pansy, carnations, and insects The coif has a casing at the bottom and is unlined. The top seam appears to have been unpicked and re-sewn at a later date. The triangular shape of the forehead cloth is outlined in silver-gilt thread in chain stitch.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1575-1625 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-sewn and hand-embroidered

Descriptive line

A woman's coif and forehead cloth of linen, 1575-1624, English; Embroidered coloured silks, silver gilt thread

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO,1938, p.83, plate LX

Subjects depicted

Pansy; Roses; Caterpillar; Foxglove; Strawberry; Carnation


Clothing; Hats & headwear; Embroidery; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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