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Detail of 17th-century weft-patterned orphrey created in Turkey, once adorning a chasuble created in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, National Museum in Warsaw

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.[1] 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.


  1. ^ The Mercery of London, Anne F. Sutton, p. 9

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