One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An ornamental stripe or border, especially one on an ecclesiastical vestment such as a chasuble.
- ‘The seams were reinforced with decorated strips of material called ‘orphreys’, which were arranged to hang vertically front and back.’
- ‘Saints embroidered in metallic and silk threads decorate the orphrey, the ornamental band along the top of the cope as pictured here.’
- ‘The shoulder seams, and the edges of the neck and hem, are bordered by narrow orphreys, those on the hem decorated with a ladder pattern resembling that on the base and cover.’
- ‘They also embroidered orphreys (clerical vestments), for the ‘good of their souls’.’
- ‘The earliest coloured illustration of the salt, published by Henry Shaw in 1836, clearly shows that more colour was then extant: red, colouring the orphreys on the tunic; black on his shoes.’
Middle English: from Old French orfreis, from a medieval Latin alteration of auriphrygium, from Latin aurum ‘gold’ + Phrygius ‘Phrygian’ (also used in the sense ‘embroidered’).
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