The Göss Vestments

Image: Dalmatic of the Goss Vestments

The Dalmatic of the Göss Vestments, showing a
collection of fantastic animals and birds

Images kindly provided by Prof Michael Greenhalgh

Background

The Göss Benedictine nunnery was founded in 1010 by Aribo II and his wife Adala. Their daughter, Kunigunde became Abbess of the nunnery The nunnery came to exert major cultural and economic influence throughout the surrounding region. The noble nuns were literate, had an extensive library and great manual skills. One of the most famous examples of their work is the Romanesque "Gösser Vestments" from the 13th Century, which are now one of the prime exhibits at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts) in Vienna.

The abbess of Göss, Kunigunde (abbess between 1239-1269), donated these so-called Göss Vestments in 1260. She, along with the other nuns, had made the garments herself. Vestments represent an ensemble of stylistically matching liturgical garments, for the priest, deacon and sub-deacon, supplemented by a festive altar cloth. The Göss vestments consist of embroidered linen and are in uniquely good condition as they were rarely used, except for the mass held to mark the anniversary of the death of the nunnery's founder Adala.

Dating and attribution of the vestments is possible by a number of inscriptions in the vestments. Unusually, the inscription is in Middle High German rather than Latin.

Materials Used

  • Linen ground
  • coloured silk thread (blue,yellow, green, rust light brown, white, red)

Stitches and Techniques

The piece is worked in a variety of stitches, including

Design

The vestments are a complete set for a chapel, comprising an altar frontal, chasuble, cope, dalmatic and tunicle. The vestments are uniform in materials, technique and style.

Information on the Individual Pieces of the Göss Vestments

Images of Extant Piece

The following images are from the Rubens Art Server at ANU:

Sources for Further Information

  • Schuette, Marie and Muller-Christensen, Sigrid, The Art of Embroidery, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1964)
  • Pollak, Melanie. "The Vienna "Gosser Ornat" and a Stole and Two Maniples in London." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 73, no. 426 (1938): 115-17+20-21.