Coif, St. Birgitta

Light coloured fabric coifs with wrapped ties are commonly seen on women in medieval art from the 13th to 16th centuries. There are extant examples residing in museums and private collections in Italy, France, The Low Countries and Scandinavia. 

This style of coif is nearly ubiquitous on women in the Morgan Bible (Ms M. 638 aka the Maciejowski Bible, 1250, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York); an excellent back view is shown in the Liturgische kalender uit Kamerijk, (1275-1300, Den Haag, KB, 76 J 18, fol. 211v.);  'Italian' versions can be seen in the Tacuinum Sanitatis, (c.1390, Paris, BNF, MS. Lat. Acq. 1673, fol. 11r.); and a very excellent view of the coif off the head can be seen in Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, Frankrijk, (c.1475-1500, Glasgow University, MS Hunter 252, fol. 186r.)

An original coif dating between the 13th and 16th centuries is in the possession of the Birgittine Convent in Uden, The Netherlands. This coif is attributed to Saint Birgitta of Sweden and is kept as a relic. The coif is made of two pieces of linen which are connected by a band of openwork embroidery.  A fabric tie forms a band on the face edge and extending beyond is a which is also embroidered. 

Our version follows the design of the Birgitta coif.   The body is made of ivory linen, and the central seam is joined by openwork braid which mimics the double herringbone embroidery of the original.  The band and embroidery are slightly darker ivory than the linen, forming a subtle two-tone effect. The coif may be worn alone or as a foundation for a veil, hood or other headdress.

I would like to extend my profound thanks to Brent Hanner, Bertus Brokamp, and Isis Sturtewagen, without whose invaluable assistance and research this coif would not be possible.



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  • Model: BSD-WHW12
  • Shipping Weight: 0.2lbs

Current Reviews: 2

This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 02 June, 2012.