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Currently in storage

About this object

Worn by one of the priests officiating at the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896, this sumptuous liturgical vestment is made of gold brocade woven in a pattern of imperial double-headed eagles and stylized leaves outlined in dark red silk. The massive task of weaving the cloth of gold for the coronation vestments was entrusted to the famous Moscow firm of Sapozhnikov and Company. A purveyor to the court, the company specialized in reviving textile designs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In this case, the design of the double-headed eagles is based on the brocade velvet sakkos (bishop’s dalmatic) made for Patriarch Adrian exactly two centuries before, in 1696.

The fabric is made up of three-color gold-wrapped threads with major forms outlined in crimson. The dominant theme is an image of a double-winged, double-headed, single-crowned eagle with a scepter carried in its upraised, proper right talon. The proper left talon is held down and is empty. Unlike the imperial eagle, this bird is not armed; i.e., it does not have an open beak with tongue stuck out. Large, generalized sprays of leaves and vaguely floral forms frames the eagles. The ornamentation around the collar is set off by an ornately patterned band in gold-covered cloth. A similar but somewhat larger band encircles the garment just below this. Around the neck or collar of the felon', the same floral leaf and spray pattern that appears on the fabric is repeated in a three-dimensional manner by sewing down twisted, gold (or gold-covered) wire to the yellow-silk background and setting it off with crimson thread. On the rear of the garment, at the neck or collar, is a prominent crown with ten 'jewels' bearing a cross. (This is the same ornament that appears on stikhars from the same group of objects.) Couched stitches have been manipulated to create the appearance of a sunburst behind the crown. Below this is applied to the garment a prominent, couched Latin, or equal-armed, cross with five 'rays' between each arm. The rays are ornamental with gold or gilt sequins and disks. Above the decorative border near the hem is applied a couched right-pointed star. 'Rays' emphasized by sequins extend out from the body of the star.

costume, liturgical
Object name:
Made from:
Silk; cotton; gold-wrapped thread; silver-wrapped thread; silver-gilt or brass spangles
Made in:
Moscow, Russia
Date made:
146.1 x 194.3 cm (57 1/2 x 76 1/2 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
Inscription 1000 Inside back lining, at neck Stamped in black ink Inscription III N15 Inside back lining at neck Written in smeared purple ink Label [Cyrillic] 2 Ar 1 1/2 v. Inside lining Stamped in gilt. The label is a size measurement (2 arshiny and 1 1/2 vershki). Inscription 8532 [Cyrillic script] Dt Inside back lining, center, at hem Written in faded blue ink. This may be a mark from Torgisn. The object file says that a paper Torgsin label bearing the number 8532 was sewn into the garment at one time. This label is no longer extant. Inscription [Cyrillic caps] O N Inside back lining, center, near hem Written in purple ink.
Credit line:
Gift of Dina Merrill Robertson, 1977
Featured in publication:
"A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum"