Cloth of gold

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Cloth of gold woven with golden strips

Cloth of gold or gold cloth (Latin: Tela aurea) is a fabric woven with a gold-wrapped or spun weft—referred to as "a spirally spun gold strip". In most cases, the core yarn is silk wrapped (filé) with a band or strip of high content gold. In rarer instances, fine linen and wool have been used as the core.


The left inside panel of the Wilton Diptych (c. 1395–1399) shows a kneeling Richard II of England wearing a robe of cloth of gold and red vermilion.

Cloth of gold has been popular for ecclesiastical use for many centuries. Under Henry VII of England, its use was reserved to royalty and higher levels of nobility.[1] It is also used today by companies such as Charvet for neckwear.

Few extant examples have survived in Roman provincial tombs.[citation needed] Later producers of cloth of gold include the Byzantine Empire and Medieval Italian weavers, particularly in Genoa, Venice and Lucca.[2] Dating from the 1460s the Waterford cloth-of-gold vestments are made from Italian silk woven in Florence. The panels were embroidered in Bruges which was the centre of the medieval embroidery industry.A similar cloth of silver was also made. It is still made in India and Europe today.[citation needed]


  • Cloth of gold is not to be confused with various gold embroidery techniques that date to the early Middle Ages, though the type of goldwork thread called "passing" is identical to the weft thread of cloth of gold.
  • Most modern metallic fabrics made in the West are known as lamé.
  • Cloth of gold is a familiar name occasionally applied to the venomous Conus textile species of cone shell.[3]
  • Tilsent is a luxurious silken cloth interwoven with flattened threads of gold or silver.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hayward, Maria (2009). Rich apparel: clothing and the law in Henry VIII's England. Ashgate Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-7546-4096-7.
  2. ^ Jane Burns, E. (2009). Sea of silk: a textile geography of women's work in medieval French literature. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 47.
  3. ^ "Cloth-of-Gold". Eyefetch. Archived from the original on 2012-02-10.
  4. ^ Guy, John (2014). Henry VIII : the quest for fame. London: Allen Lane. p. 82. ISBN 9780141977126.
  • The Roman Textile Industry and Its Influence. A Birthday Tribute to John Peter Wild. Edited by Penelope Walton Rodgers, et al.


  • Joycelyne Gledhill Russell: The Field of Cloth of Gold: Men and Manners in 1520. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1969

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