The Shrouding

Shrouding should start immediately after washing the body of the deceased.  The method of shrouding will depend on the type of shroud used.  As with the initial preparation of the body, there is no set way to perform this procedure.  The following methods are general, and can be used as a guide.  As with all aspects in caring for the deceased, this procedure should be done with dignity and respect. 

Shrouds of some cultures are colorful and have finely woven designs.  Other cultures or religions are very specific as to simplicity, color, and types of material that can be used.  In general, shrouds can be made from almost any type of cloth, from linen or wool to silk.  Favorite quilts have been used for shrouds in places such as Missouri and Arkansas.

Shrouds can consist from a single layer to as many as sixteen layers of wrappings. Here we will extend only to triple layers.  Some shrouds have a finer material for the inner wrappings, and a more course material for the outside.  Some religions may furnish specifically designed shrouds to their followers.  If you have to purchase the material to make your own, make sure you have enough to complete the procedure.  For  simplicity, we will call those shrouds made of large sheets of material "Layered Shrouds".  We will call those shrouds made of winding strips of cloth (such as used on Egyptian mummies) "Winding Shrouds".  

Layered Shrouds

The sheets used should be long enough to conceal the whole body, so that both ends can be tied. Their width should be enough to allow one side to overlap the other.  As an alternative, you should use sheets a little longer than double the body length, and wide enough to overlap in width.  With the second type the body will be placed on the sheet in a position where the head is about half way to the length, and the sheet folded over the head to the feet.

Lay out the different layers of material on the bed or other surface, outermost layer on the bottom and the following sheets spread on top one another.  Place the deceased, while covered with a sheet, on his or her back on the top layers of the shrouding material.

If desired, material made into a loin cloth and/or waist cloth can be wrapped on the body.  At this time you can also place some additional scent or perfume on the forehead, nose, hands, knees, and feet.

If it is possible, place the deceased's left hand on the chest, then put the right hand on the left hand.  They can be tied in this position with a strip of cloth.  Tightly fold the top sheet over the deceased's right side, then the other edge over the left side.  Any following sheets should be folded the same way.  Make all the folds as neat as possible.  As the last step, these sheets should be fastened with pieces of cloth strips (tie ropes); one above the head, another under the feet, and two around the body.  If needed, pins can be used to help secure the wrappings.

Winding Shrouds

Similar to wrapping mummies, this is the most difficult method of shrouding.  You will have to cut or tear strips from other sheets, from two to eight inches wide and as long as possible.  The linen used in wrapping mummies was for the most part not made especially made for shrouds, but was old household linen saved for this purpose. Using resin was the traditional method of securing the ends of the final strips.

The total amount of material in some cases, depending on the number of layers, can be as mush as three hundred square meters.  You should be able to do this process using well under that amount.  In our example the inner wrappings will consist of two layers, the outer wrappings three.

Starting at the top of the left shoulder, bring the fabric strip up along the ear and over the head to the other side and down to the chin.  Using the chin as an anchor point, wrap upwards over the beginning strip to hold it in place, the continue to wrap the head. Once the head is wrapped, continue down the body until you reach the feet.  Wrap the feet, secure the ends by tucking under the wraps, a safety pin, or fastener similar to that used for an ace bandage. Cloth tape will also work. Repeat this wrapping in the opposite direction, starting at the right shoulder. Tuck any remaining material when finished. This completes the inner wrappings.

Because of the inner wrappings, the body will not be as pliant and bendable as before. This means that you will have to roll or lift the body more than previously. 

The outer wrapping consists of three layers. Wrap in the opposite direction and continue diagonally around the body until the feet are wrapped.  Try to wrap as tightly and neatly as possible, without any gaps in the material. Start the final wrapping at the head again, wrapping in the opposite direction of the last wrap. As there are no ties used in this type of shroud it is important that all ends are tucked and secured so that they will not come loose.