Medieval Vestment Survivals: The Terno de San Valero

Genuine medieval survivals where vestments are concerned are not unknown, but neither are they particularly common. This particular set is known as the "Terno de San Valero" which were vestments that were procured in the thirteenth century (ca. 1215-1275). As we have noted here many times, there really was no such thing as a specifically "ecclesiastical textile" until modern times and as such, our attentive readers will no doubt note the Arabic influences that are to be found on these vestments -- textiles which are thought to be of Hispano-Arabic in their origination. 

To modern eyes, we would tend to interpret the colour as orange, but this only serves another point of historical note: we live in a time where dyes are readily available and easily accessible. Previous centuries did not find themselves in such luxurious situations and, as such, colours were much more a case of 'close enough' approximations -- the best known example of this being how a deep blue might serve liturgically as either violet or black. 

Below is the cope from the set, seen from the back and absent of any shield/hood. The chasuble no doubt would have looked rather similar in both general shape and design.

The dalmatic/tunicle of the set is something we also have, though it should be noted that the green sleeves are not original having been added later, possibly in a restorations done in the year 1499. It is thought this particular fabric is Chinese in origin. This modification was no doubt simply for the purposes of repair rather than anything stylistic but it brings to bear yet another historical point worth highlighting: silk textiles were frequently imports and while their desirability and popularity would eventually spawn a native textile industry in centres such as Venice, Lucca, Lyon, as well as others within Europe, there was originally a great deal of reliance upon importing these precious fabrics from the orient. What mattered was not their place of origin, nor that they had any specific Christian designs embedded within them; what mattered rather was their nobility, quality and beauty since the operative principle was that the very best should always furnish the divine worship -- a lesson we would do well to remember today.

Some further details for your examination:

One can see Arabic script here

An inverted detail of the orphrey on the cope which features birds

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