Shroud 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 sheets, mound shroud, grave clothes, winding-cloths or winding-sheets, such as the famous Shroud of Turin or Tachrichim (burial shrouds) that Jews are dressed in for burial. Traditionally, mound shrouds are made of white cotton, wool or linen, though any material can be used so long as it is made of natural fibre. Intermixture of two or more such fibres is forbidden, a proscription that ultimately derives from the Torah, viz., Deut. 22:11.
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 use a burial shroud, usually decorated with a cross and the Trisagion. The special shroud that is used during the Orthodox Holy Week services is called an Epitaphios. Some Catholics also use the burial shroud particularly the Eastern Catholics and traditionalist Roman Catholics.
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.
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- Alfred J. Kolatch, The Jewish Book of Why (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 1981), pp. 52-53
- Françoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane; Dress in the Middle Ages; p.112, Yale UP, 1997; ISBN 0-300-06906-5