1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chimere

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CHIMERE (Lat. chimera, chimaera; O. Fr. chamarre, Mod. Fr. simarre; Ital. zimarra; cf. Span. zamarra, a sheepskin coat; possibly derived ultimately from Gr. χειμέριος, “wintry,” i.e. a winter overcoat), in modern English use the name of a garment worn as part of the ceremonial dress of Anglican bishops. It is a long sleeveless gown of silk or satin, open down the front, gathered in at the back between the shoulders, and with slits for the arms. It is worn over the rochet (q.v.), and its colour is either black or scarlet (convocation robes). By a late abuse the sleeves of the rochet were, from motives of convenience, sometimes attached to the chimere. The origin of the chimere has been the subject of much debate; but the view that it is a modification of the cope (q.v.) is now discarded, and it is practically proved to be derived from the medieval tabard (tabardum, taberda or collobium), an upper garment worn in civil life by all classes of people both in England and abroad. It has therefore a common origin with certain academic robes (see Robes, § Academic dress).

The word “chimere,” which first appears in England in the 14th century, was sometimes applied not only to the tabard worn over the rochet, but to the sleeved cassock worn under it. Thus Archbishop Scrope is described as wearing when on his way to execution (1405) a blue chimere with sleeves. But the word properly applies to the sleeveless tabard which tended to supersede, from the 15th century onwards, the inconvenient cappa clausa (a long closed cloak with a slit in front for the arms) as the out-of-doors upper garment of bishops. These chimeres, the colours of which (murrey, scarlet, green, &c.) may possibly have denoted academical rank, were part of the civil costume of prelates. Thus in the inventory of Walter Skirlawe, bishop of Durham (1405–1406), eight chimeres of various colours are mentioned, including two for riding (pro equitatura). The chimere was, moreover, a cold weather garment. In summer its place was taken by the tippet.

In the Anglican form for the consecration of bishops the newly consecrated prelate, hitherto vested in rochet, is directed to put on “the rest of the episcopal habit,” i.e. the chimere. The robe has thus become in the Church of England symbolical of the episcopal office, and is in effect a liturgical vestment. The rubric containing this direction was added to the Book of Common Prayer in 1662; and there is proof that the development of the chimere into at least a choir vestment was subsequent to the Reformation. Foxe, indeed, mentions that Hooper at his consecration wore “a long scarlet chymere down to the foot” (Acts and Mon., ed. 1563, p. 1051), a source of trouble to himself and of scandal to other extreme reformers; but that this was no more than the full civil dress of a bishop is proved by the fact that Archbishop Parker at his consecration wore surplice and tippet, and only put on the chimere, when the service was over, to go away in. This civil quality of the garment still survives alongside the other; the full dress of an Anglican prelate at civil functions of importance (e.g. in parliament, or at court) is still rochet and chimere.

The continental equivalent of the chimere is the zimarra or simarre, which is defined by foreign ecclesiologists (Moroni, Barbier de Montault) as a kind of soutane (cassock), from which it is distinguished by having a small cape and short, open arms (manches-fausses) reaching to the middle of the upper arm and decorated with buttons. In France and Germany it is fitted more or less to the figure; in Italy it is wider and falls down straight in front. Like the soutane, the zimarra is not proper to any particular rank of clergy, but in the case of bishops and prelates it is ornamented with red buttons and bindings. It never has a train (cauda). It is not universally worn, e.g. in Germany apparently only by prelates. G. Moroni identifies the zimarra with the epitogium which Domenico Magri, in his Hierolexicon (ed. 1677), calls the uppermost garment of the clergy, worn over the soutane (toga) instead of the mantellum (vestis suprema clericorum loco pallii), with a cross-reference to Tabardum, the “usual” upper garment (pallium usuale); and this definition is repeated in the 8th edition of the work (1732). From this it appears that so late as the middle of the 18th century the zimarra was still in common use as an out-of-doors overcoat. But, according to Moroni, by the latter half of the 19th century the zimarra, though still worn by certain civilians (e.g. notaries and students), had become in Italy chiefly the domestic garment of the clergy, notably of superiors, parish priests, rectors, certain regulars, priests of congregations, bishops, prelates and cardinals. It was worn also by the Roman senators, and is still worn by university professors. A black zimarra lined with white, and sometimes ornamented with a white binding and gold tassels, is worn by the pope.

More analogous to the Anglican chimere in shape, though not in significance, is the purple mantelletum worn over the rochet by bishops, and by others authorized to wear the episcopal insignia, in presence of the pope or his legates. This symbolizes the temporary suspension of the episcopal jurisdiction (symbolized by the rochet) so long as the pope or his representative is present. Thus at the Curia cardinals and prelates wear the mantelletum, while the pope wears the zimarra, and the first act of the cardinal camerlengo after the pope’s death is to expose his rochet by laying aside the mantelletum, the other cardinals following his example, as a symbol that during the vacancy of the papacy the pope’s jurisdiction is vested in the Sacred College. On the analogy of the mantelletum certain Anglican prelates, American and colonial, have from time to time appeared in purple chimeres; which, as the Rev. N. F. Robinson justly points out, is a most unhappy innovation, since it has no historical justification, and its symbolism is rather unfortunate.

Authorities.—See the Report of the sub-committee of Convocation on the ornaments of the church and its ministers, p. 31 (London, 1908); the Rev. N. F. Robinson, “The black chimere of Anglican Prelates: a plea for its retention and proper use,” in Transactions of the St Paul’s Ecclesiological Soc. vol. iv. pp. 181-220 (London, 1898); Herbert Druitt, Costume on Brasses (London, 1906); G. Moroni, Dizionario dell’ erudizione storico-ecclesiastica (Venice, 1861), vol. 103, s.v. “Zimarra”: X. Barbier de Montault, Traité pratique de la construction, &c., des églises, ii. 538 (Paris, 1878).  (W. A. P.)