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Coif

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered with coloured silks, metal braiding, silver bobbin lace

  • Museum number:

    1199&A-1905

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This coif is embroidered in coloured silks, embellished with precious metal threads and spangles (sequins). The pattern of scrolling stems bearing flowers and fruits is typical of embroidery design in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. As an unfinished piece, it is particularly interesting, because it shows the process of embroidery. The pattern was first drawn with ink and a very fine brush, which can still be seen in the unworked areas. Each motif was embroidered around the edges in stem stitch, before being filled in.

Until the end of the 17th century the coif was informal headwear for women. Plain linen versions were worn by the working-class. Middle-class and aristocratic women wore elaborately decorated coifs. It would have been worn by itself indoors, or with a hat on top in public. In Western Europe it was customary for both men and women to cover their heads in public up until the 1960s. A hat was an essential part of respectable dress and, from a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease.

Physical description

Unfinished woman's coif of linen embroidered with coloured silks and embellished with metal braiding and sequins. It is bordered with silver bobbin lace. There is visible underdrawing on the crown of the coif.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1600-1625 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered with coloured silks, metal braiding, silver bobbin lace

Descriptive line

Woman's coif of linen, 1600-1625, English; embroidered with silk, metal threads, unfinished, silver bobbin lace

Materials

Linen; Silver; Silk

Techniques

Embroidering

Subjects depicted

Flowers

Categories

Europeana Fashion Project; Clothing; Hats & headwear; Women's clothes

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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