Burial Shrouds

by MSO
black and white photo of a woman wrapped in a shroud

A deceased person, being wrapped in an expansive shroud.

A shroud refers to an item, usually a cloth, that covers or protects an object. The primary use of the term is for burial shrouds which is a cloth that is wound around the body prior to burial and used in several cultures, primarily Islam and Judaism.

Christians, especially early on, encouraged the use of shrouds. Shrouds have been used since about the second century when they were seen as an alternative to burying the dead in clothing that could be passed on to other family members. It has been observed as a Jewish tradition as a form of modesty and human equality in death. Since the shrouds are simple, white and unadorned, there is no sign of social status or wealth in a typical Jewish or Islamic shroud.

Jewish burial shrouds consist of hand-stitched white garments which are then covered by a white sheet. Fabrics are typically muslin or linen, though any natural fibre is acceptable. Muslim shrouds are typically a simple, white cotton cloth.

Outside of religious circles, shrouds are regaining popularity with people interested in a green funeral and are also using biodegradable burial containers.

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