usually refers to an item, such as a cloth, that covers or protects some other object. The term is most often used in reference to burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...
, such as the famous Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The image on the shroud is...
Tachrichim are traditional simple white burial garments, usually made from 100% pure linen, in which Jews are dressed by the Chevra Kadisha for burial after undergoing a taharah ....
(burial shrouds) that Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...
are dressed in for burial. Traditionally, burial shrouds are made of white cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....
, though any material can be used so long as it is made of natural fibre.
The Early Christian Church also strongly encouraged the use of winding-sheets, except for monarchs and bishops, and their use was general until at least the Renaissance - clothes were very expensive, and they had the advantage that a good set of clothes was not lost to the family. Orthodox Christians still sometimes use a burial shroud, usually decorated with a cross and the Trisagion
The Trisagion , sometimes called by its opening line Agios O Theos or by the Latin Tersanctus, is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Catholic Churches.In those Churches which use the Byzantine Rite, the Trisagion is chanted...
. The special shroud that is used during the Orthodox Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...
services is called an Epitaphios
Epitaphios may refer to:* Funeral oration or epitaphios logos* Epitaphios or epitaphion, a cloth icon used during Holy Week in churches that follow the Byzantine rite...
Muslims as well use burial shrouds that are made of white cotton or linen. The Burying in Woollen Acts 1666-80 in England were meant to support the production of woollen cloth.
Jewish shroud traditions
The traditional clothing for burying the dead are tahrihim, simple white shrouds. Their use dates back to Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel II, who, in the second century CE, asked to be buried in inexpensive linen garments. According to the Talmud, Rabban Gamliel observed that the custom of dressing the deceased in expensive clothing put a terrible burden on the relatives of the deceased.
The custom he initiated - which set both a decorous minimum and a limit on ostentation - has been followed by observant Jews ever since. "Whoever heaps elaborate shrouds upon the dead transgresses the injunction against wanton destruction. Such a one disgraces the deceased." The universal use of shrouds protected the poor from embarrassment at not being able to afford lavish burial clothes. Since shrouds have no pockets, wealth or status cannot be expressed or acknowledged in death. In every generation, these garments reaffirmed a fundamental belief in human equality.
Shrouds are white and entirely hand-stitched. They are made without buttons, zippers, or fasteners. Tahrihim come in muslin
Muslin |sewing patterns]], such as for clothing, curtains, or upholstery. Because air moves easily through muslin, muslin clothing is suitable for hot, dry climates.- Etymology and history :...
or linen, fabrics that recall the garments of the ancient Hebrew priesthood. There is little difference in appearance or cost between them; the funeral home may or may not offer a choice. Tahrihim come packaged in sets for men and women. Regardless of gender, they include tunic, pants, a head covering, and a belt. The pants typically cover the feet, much like footed pajamas. The belt is customarily tied in an ornate knot reminiscent of the Hebrew letter shin
. The head covering typically consists of both a hood that is directly attached to the tunic and a face cloth, essentially the ancient sudarium
. Men may also be wrapped in a kittel, a simple, white ceremonial jacket that some Jews wear on Yom Kippur, at the Passover seder, and under the wedding canopy. The fully dressed body, whether in shrouds or kittel, is further enwrapped in a lengthy white sheet, or sovev
If the body has been prepared for burial with ritual cleansing (taharah), the body will automatically be dressed in tahrihim. Jewish funeral homes and burial societies (hevra kadishas) in general have a supply on hand, and the cost may be covered by their honorarium.
In addition to tahrihim, some Jews are wrapped in the prayer shawl (tallit) in which they prayed. Every tallit is tied with four sets of knotted fringes (tzizit), which symbolize the commandment (mitzvot) incumbent upon Jews. Before the tallit is placed on a body for burial, however, one of the sets of fringes is cut to demonstrate that the person is no longer bound by the religious obligations of the living. When only men wore tallitot, only men were buried in them; today, any woman who wore a prayer shawl during her lifetime — an increasingly common custom — is accorded the same treatment in many communities.
Tahrihim swaddle the entire body, including the face, so that the deceased is both clothed and protected against the gaze of other people. If shrouds are used, the body is placed in the coffin, which is then closed. In Israel, it is customary to bury the deceased (except soldiers) without a coffin. The body is clothed in a white linen shroud and not street clothes. Shrouds are sewn without knots, and are a multiple piece garment. In earlier times, the sisterhoods or women's auxiliaries used to make shrouds for their community; this practice may still occur in traditional communities. Today, virtually all (Jewish) mortuaries carry shrouds. The prices vary, depending on if it is cotton or linen, hand sewn, or hand sewn by Jewish women, for example. Jerusalem Shrouds in Monsey NY has Jewish women sew the tachrichim, since it is highly traditional to have it sewn only by Jewish women (gesher hachaim, shlu, mavaar yabok). This is done because of a rabbinic decree of around 1800 years ago. People were spending more than they could afford on funeral expenses because no one wanted to show the deceased, typically a parent, less honor than others showed their loved ones. So, Rabban Gamliel, the "prince" of the Jewish community of the time (and therefore his estate would be quite wealthy), demanded that he be buried in simple white linen, and that this become the custom for everyone. He patterned this clothing after that worn by the High Priest in the Temple on Yom Kippur. If God commands the High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies and confront the Divine Presence in simple white linen garments, it seems fitting to do the same when preparing someone to meet their Maker. To this very day, Jewish custom dictates that people be buried in a hat, shirt (kittel), pants, belt—all of plain white linen, if a man, his tallis, and simplified (and ritualized) shoes. The clothing contains no pockets, symbolizing that the only thing that matters in this world is spiritual pursuits, as you cannot take any material things with you to the next world. The belt is not knotted, for Kabbalistic reasons.