Zibelline is an adjective that refers to a type of luxurious fur or fabric made from the pelts of sable or martens, specifically those from Siberia or Northern Europe. The term originates from the Old French word "cibeline" and Latin "zibellinus," both derived from the Russian "sobel" or Old High German "sibin," meaning "sable."
The term zibelline is often used to describe soft and silky dark brown fur with a lustrous sheen. It is highly prized for its excellent quality, warmth, and durability, making it a desirable material for luxurious garments, particularly coats, stoles, and hats. Notably, sables are known for their dense underfur, which helps to keep the wearer exceptionally warm in colder climates.
Additionally, zibelline can also refer to fabrics made to resemble or imitate the appearance of sable fur. These textiles use a variety of techniques, such as weaving, dyeing, or finishing processes, to replicate the characteristics of the luxurious pelts. These imitation zibelline fabrics often possess a plush texture, deep color, and sheen, providing a more affordable alternative to real fur while still delivering a similar aesthetic appeal.
Overall, zibelline signifies a fine and opulent material synonymous with luxury and elegance, whether it be in the form of genuine fur or fabric recreations.
The word "zibelline" is derived from the Old Italian word "zibellino", which itself comes from Latin "cibellus". In turn, the Latin word is said to have originated from the Greek word "kiborion", meaning "a sort of animal".
The term "zibellino" initially referred to a small mammal known as the sable, which has valuable fur. Sables were highly sought after for their luxurious, soft fur, and during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the term "zibellino" began to be used to describe garments made from sable fur, specifically the lining or trimming of a garment.
Over time, "zibelline" expanded in its usage and started referring to items made from any type of soft, silky fur, not exclusively from sable.