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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Orphrey \Or"phrey\, n. [See Orfrays.] A band of rich embroidery, wholly or in part of gold, affixed to vestments, especially those of ecclesiastics.


n. 1 (context obsolete English) Any elaborate embroidery, ''especially'' made of gold thread. (14th-19th c.) 2 (context Christianity English) An embroidered ornamental band or border on an ecclesiastical vestment, altar frontal, etc. (from 15th c.)


n. a richly embroidered edging on an ecclesiastical vestment


An orphrey, also spelt orfrey or orfray, is a form of often highly detailed embroidery, in which typically simple materials are made into complex patterns. In 1182 and 1183 Henry II of England spent lavishly on orphreys. The word comes from Old French orfreis, from Late Latin auriphrygium, from Latin aurum "gold" and Phrygius "Phrygian."

Orphrey bands are often worn on clerical vestments, a tradition that began in the 12th century Roman Catholic Church. The finest examples of orphrey can take hundreds of hours of work and sell for thousands of dollars.

Usage examples of "orphrey".

Her headrail matched her misty violet eyes and her darker lavender gunna, which was embroidered at the edges in the orphrey style with gold thread.

On his head he wore a scarlet bonnet wrought by hand with birds and beasts of various shape, sewed in with orphrey work.

How they clothe their figures in every conceivable splendor of orphrey and ermine, in jewels and shining armor and rich stuff of silk and samite, in robe of scarlet or in yellow dalmatic!

She had finished the main part of the cope now, and was embroidering the golden lettering on the orphrey, the border which round the front edges of the cope.

EIys promised not to try to work with inadequate light and always had at least four candles burning when she worked after dark, and, as Matthew and Crispin often brought their copying home to do in the warmth of their own hall rather than in the chilly scriptorium, and the orphrey could be worked on a tambour frame, being comparatively small, they put all their candles together on the table, and sat round in a group to do their work in a really good light.

The tree burned with unconsuming fire in the candlelight, the birds and animals glowed like jewels, the dove seemed to be truly about to alight on the topmost branch, the words on the orphrey gleamed and seemed to stand out from the dark red silk behind them, but it was the morse, which showed the Cross supported by two angels, which pleased, Father Warmand the most.

She might even have threatened to report him to his bishop, and that certainly would have peeled the orphreys off his chasuble, or whatever it is.

The two pieces had been joined and the embroidery carried across the seam, and she had now to put in the interlining and catch it in place, then the lining, and the orphreys had then to go along the straight edge, sandwiching the three layers.

He wore a glistening cuirass of enameled metal, a sumptuous robe falling in elaborate folds almost to the floor, edged with orphreys embroidered in gold thread.

There was a welt on his forehead where the heavy orphreyed mitre had rested during the long investiture ceremony.

Her headrail matched her misty violet eyes and her darker lavender gunna, which was embroidered at the edges in the orphrey style with gold thread.

The orphreys were divided into panels representing scenes from the life of the Virgin, and the coronation of the Virgin was figured in coloured silks upon the hood.

The orphreys were woven in a diaper of red and gold silk, and were starred with medallions of many saints and martyrs, among whom was St.

Ornaments abounded: chasubles, of course, with splendid orphreys to enrich them.