This figure is one of a set of 50 dressed to represent the outfits worn by Catholic religious orders. They are made of tow (hemp) with wax heads, hands and feet. They were probably made in France, as they are labelled in French, but some of the orders represented were only active in Germany and the Netherlands.
This figure represents a Premonstratensian Canoness. The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as Premonstratensians or Norbertines, are a Catholic religious order founded in 1120 by St. Norbert (later Archbishop of Magdeburg). Unusually for Catholic communities, this order has always considered the spiritual life of both its male and female members to be equal. The canonesses are often known as Norbertine Sisters. While Canons or Canonesses live in a community and follow the religious life, they are also expected to preach, teach and offer hospitality to pilgrims, travellers and tend the sick in hospitals. The Premonstratensian order is still active today. They are also known in England as the White Canons due to their undyed wool habits, with which canonesses wear a black veil lined in white.