A Chasuble from the Sixteenth Century

This late sixteenth century chasuble is yet another instantiation of the high end of the Renaissance style and tastes. The composition is one that we've covered many times before. A red and gold silk velvet done in the 'a griccia' motif that was so prized within this era. It was a manifestation of offering to God and His worship only the very best, and this was considered the very best at this period of history. 

I would take a moment to point out the beautiful alternating red and gold fringe going around the entire edge of the chasuble. While this feature was lost in later centuries, it was quite common (and no doubt also practical) in vestments of the Renaissance era. 

The orphrey -- which is evidently repurposed from an earlier, medieval vestment -- is embroidered with images of St. John the Evangelist, St. Paul, St. Andrew, St. Thomas and St. Philip. 

Chasubles such as these tend to baffle moderns; "is it red or is it gold?" Such is the rather flat and absolutist way in which we have come to think of these things as a result of being accustomed to the easy availability of synthetic dyes (making any colour possible on demand) and also subject to a period of history where tastes tend to be very flat and monochromatic.  

In earlier centuries, colours were often approximations (for example, dark blue or purple byes for liturgical black) and some textiles, such as that shown here today, could have been equally used as either a 'red' vestment or as a 'gold' one (and which may well have depended on the particular sacristan/priest/bishop).  

There is perhaps an interesting paradox to be found in the fact that while former ages very much had to simply "make do" with what they had available or with 'hand me down' textile donations, they frequently produced far more spectacular paraments than we have in an era of 'on-demand' availability. 

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