A Shroud is any covering wrapped around a corpse for protection, utility and/or Spiritual reverence in preparation for burial , mummification or cremation.Traditionally a shroud is an animal skin or piece of cloth that is wrapped around a body in preparation for burial or cremation. ( Shown: the Shroud of Turin is believed by many to be the actual shroud of Jesus the Christ. For latest info CLICK HERE )
SHROUDS throughout HISTORY-
PRE-HISTORIC INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The shroud was perhaps the very first funeral "product" when an early human being wrapped the deceased body of a loved one in an animal skin. In Native American culture when a tribal member died the body of the dead was wrapped in hides and placed on a burial platform with their most prized possessions and given back to the Great Spirit . The bones were then buried in the sacred tribal burial grounds. First peoples did NOT cremate.These same burial platforms were used all across the globe by the Aboriginals in Australia practicing the same type of ritual shrouding the body with animal skins and wrapped with herbs and flowers.Therefore we can also say that these first shrouds of animal skin were also the very first form of American Burial. From the American Encyclopedia 1873:
“Many "savage" tribes in various parts of the world suspend their dead from trees, or place them upon elevated platforms. The latter custom was practiced by many of the North American Indians. Among the Turks and other eastern nations, the dead are treated with reverence, and buried in cemeteries which are carefully kept.”
The practice of honoring the body and letting it return naturally as food for animals was considered barbaric by the first immigrants to North America - the Europeans. The Native Americans lived in perfect harmony with Nature and without any waste. We are fairly certain that if one were to ask the Sioux , Apache ,Navajo ,Hopi,Blackfoot or any Native American in the 19th Century and before what they thought about building stone tombs as high as a mountain for one single dead human being - they might have thought this equally "barbaric and savage".........................(or just plain crazy! )
MUMMIFICATION - The CHACHAPOYA of PERU & the ANCIENT EGYPTIANS -
By the time the Spanish arrived in Peru at the beginning of the 16th Century the Chachapoya people had already been subsumed into the great Inca Empire. Yet they left one thing behind – the strange sarcophagi in which they would bury their dead - so far up the sheer cliff that no one has ever been able to figure out how it was done. They mummified their dead and wrapped them in woven cloth shrouds in the fetal position and then stood them on the cliffs almost like they were waiting for something from the sky to bring them home. (Here are some more recently discovered shrouded "mummy bundles" in Peru...
The features on the Peruvian Chachapoya sarcophagi resemble the features of the 887 Moai statues standing looking out to sea on Easter Island since before recorded time :( "It was believed that the living had a symbiotic relationship with the dead where the dead provided everything that the living needed -health, fertility of land and animals, fortune etc. and the living, through offerings provided the dead with a better place in the spirit world. "
Mummification - the Egyptians -The bodies (of every member and every animal in a family) were embalmed using Beeswax,Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon ,Cedar oil, Henna, Honey,Juniper berries, Salt, Onions, Paint, Resin, Sawdust, Wood tar and Palm Wine ( along with other rare herbs & spices) so they would last forever. The corpses were then elaborately shrouded in LINEN cloth wrappings and put inside of a wooden case that was put inside of another case that was decorated and painted with the story of the persons life in detail and a beautiful painted mask of their face. This was then placed in a coffin that was put in a sarcophagus. Some of the largest and oldest "mausoleums" are the Great Pyramids of Egypt ,Mexico and South America that served as tombs for their Kings.
The earliest known examples of tattoos had been the Egyptians,being present on numerous female mummies that date as far back as 2000 B.C. It was only until Iceman( carbon dated by Scientists to be around 5,200 years old ) a frozen body found at the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 discovered with patterns adorned across various parts of his body that presented evidence of tattoos existing much earlier. (Egyptian tattooed hands)
Many Buddhist High Lamas know the exact day and time they will die.They enter the final meditation session , the state of "No More Learning and as a result of their lifelong practice of meditation & the Yogas of Transference of Conciousness ,when their mental continnuum disconnects from their physical body it doesn't decompose.
ROMAN EMPIRE & OTHER EUROPEAN FUNERAL PRACTICES-
The Roman Empire began the practices of CREMATION crematoriums and placing ashes in urns in COLUMBARIUMS.Bodies were also buried in marble Sarcaphogus' and huge MASOLEUMS which originated from the original Mausoleum built for the Greek Mausolis at Halicarnassus (now Turkey) which stood over 148 ft tall:
Other great mausoleums are the Taj Mahal in India built for the beautiful Moghul Queen , the Tomb of Jinnah in Pakistan and the Grand Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
EARLY EUROPEAN (SCANDINAVIAN) TEXTILES USED FOR SHROUDS-
SCANDINAVIA -"Since the Stone Age, they had very well-developed agriculture and technology for producing linen textiles and textiles made of wild plants such as Nettles.The soft and shiny fabric of wild Nettles dates back to between 940 B.C. and 750 B.C., making it about 2,800 years old.The fabric was wrapped around a bundle of cremated remains and put into in a bronze urn. It was a luxurious piece of material, fibers we get from the Northern European nettle are very, very fine and soft and shiny, and we often say this is a sort of prehistoric silk textile - ( Silk is normally made from insect cocoons and is known for its shimmery texture.) "
Paganism is an ancient European Pre- Christian religion generally defined as a broad group of indigenous and historical polytheists connected to the Earth and to Nature. The term "Paganus" was a secular Greek word a form of of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning . It came from the Ancient Hellenic Greek and was a secular term which was redefined by the early Christians ,who were Jews, to denote "Gentiles".The legends of King Arthur, Stongehenge, Alchemy, Sorcery, Midwifery, Herbal Medicine all derive from this Ancient European religion .Later Paganism came to be equated by Christians with a sense of hedonism, representing those who are sensual, materialistic, self-indulgent, unconcerned with the future, and uninterested in sophisticated religion. Pagans were usually described within this worldly stereotype. This Earth based practice is devoted to the worship of the Natural World- Astrology, the Cycles of the seasons, the Sun and the Moon, the elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air .Pagan ceremonies honor the harvest, agriculture, childbirth, weddings and the Death of people, animals and the changing of the Seasons .Many of the ceremonies we practice today such as Easter, Halloween, New Years, Solstice and Equinox all come from ancient Pagan roots. Pagan cults still practice in mostly rural areas all over the world.
In Britain burying a body directly into the Earth was strictly prohibited by the Catholic Church. The class based practice of separating the body with caskets, vaults, sarphogi, tombs, etc. from the natural world was a requirement . ( In the Dark Ages, Bodies were actually buried directly underneath Christian churches until that proved to be a too much of a health crisis . ( photos of High Gate Cemetery in London, England )
The common 20th century practice of burial in the Untied States burying embalmed bodies in caskets, then in vaults , with marble tombstones or in large family Tombs and Mausoleums most closely resembles the funeral practices of the Roman Empire.
( Tomb in Rome, Italy) (Tomb in St. Louis ,Missouri, USA )
BELLFONTAINE CEMETERY in St. Louis ,Missouri HIGH GATE CEMETERY London, England
Shrouds have been used in the Far East for centuries by the Jain, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in the process of CREMATION .In India (as well as Indonesia and many other Asian countries) cremation takes place outdoors in ghats or Charnal Grounds on the banks of the Holy Ganges River in Varanasi , Benares , They burn around the clock- 24hrs a day. Shrouds made of colorful silks are covered with flowers and burning incense . The belief in reincarnation in these religions provides the basis for its funeral rituals. The body must be garbed with a new shroud. Flowers, incense and rose water enhance the bier. Priests, or Brahmans, chant ritual forms, called MANTRAS, along with the family, and ritual offerings of rice and milk are made to the Brahmans. Soon the body is removed to the cremation grounds, usually on the banks of a river. The ashes are collected and deposited in one of India's holy rivers. For the next 10 days, family members are considered ritually impure and normally remain in the home. By the end of that time, the soul of the deceased is believed to have acquired a new body, and the consequences of the last life, its rewards and punishments, are unfolded.
BUDDHISM teaches non attachment to the physical body and the material world in order to develop greater Love, Compassion (Bodhichitta) and renunciation from the mistaken appearances and delusions of the senses . The body is looked upon as a vehicle for use of the mental continuum during a lifetime which has no beginning nor end and is reborn traveling from body to body . Buddha taught this continous cycle of uncontrolled death and rebirth is called SAMSARA and can be abandoned by attaining Enlightenment by following a pure Spiritual Path taught by a qualified Spiritual Guide or Guru.These Enlightened Guru's remain concious through the death process and therefore teach the process of dying to the best benefit spiritually.A BUDDHIST VIEW of Death & Rebirth :
"At the point when the body dies, our mind does not die because it is a formless continuum of awareness that never stops. Our gross waking minds do stop — they dissolve into our subtle mind, and this dissolves into our very subtle mind that travels onto our next life like a bird leaving one nest and flying to another.... " "Living Meaningfully,Dying Joyfully" by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
When the Karma (results of actions of cause and effect) of the present body is exhausted it separates from the mental continuum and the physical body dies. The The body is then disposed of depending on the resources available in the particular country in which the Buddhists live. If there is wood , the body is cremated and purified in fire. If there is no wood ,for example in the Himalayan mountains then the body is carved up by a Holy Shaman Monk , the balls of meat mixed with barley powder and fed to vultures. The bones are given to the family. The bones of High Lamas (High Priests) are extremely precious , especially the skullcup, and are made into Holy Objects used in special rituals.This is commonly called SKY BURIAL. Today Modern Buddhists cremate. ( See CREMATION page )
There are certain practices that carry over in all sects of Buddhism- Offerings are made to the Buddhas in the form of of fruits, flowers, incense, jewels, candlelight, and requests and prayers for the deceased to have a fortunate rebirth in the next lifetime. The re-birth of the person's mental continuum (soul, spirit,) in Buddhism is extremely important much more so than the body which is disposed of responsibly more like any material thing whose utility has ceased .
As an dignified alternative to the grossly elaborate funerals of the Romans and the Egyptians, a Jewish Rabbi asked to be buried in his simple hand sewn robes and thus the practice of the Jewish Shroud for burial began . Jewish shrouds are made of white cloth and entirely hand-stitched. They are made without buttons, zippers, or fasteners or pockets .
JESUS of NAZARETH ,the CHRIST (founding Martyr of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION )was Jewish and prepared in the Jewish tradition in a shroud:
"It was Preparation Day ... So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pontius Pilate and asked for Jesus' body ... With, Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes...Taking Jesus' body, they wrapped it with the spices in linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs." (John 19:38-42.) "Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away." (Matthew 27:59,60; John 19:38-42.)
Islam has a very clear set of protocols for dealing with the deceased. The body must be placed on its sides and washed with warm water and soap with the final washing having scented Floral water made of Roses or Neroli. There must be an odd number of washings (a trend against odd numbers is also visible in the Hindu faith), some of the stomach's contents must be pushed out, and the teeth and nose must be cleaned on the outside as a form of ablution (spiritual cleansing). Then the body is dried, perfumed, and wrapped in white cloth SHROUD. Burial prayers are then said facing Mecca before a silent procession takes the corpse to its burial, where al the attendants share in filling the grave with soil and a second pit with bricks while saying additional prayers. The body is to buried soon after the prayer. The wrapped body is to be laid directly at the bottom of the dug grave on its right side facing the direction of Makkah. A ceiling is attached to the grave and then covered with dirt. A stone may be used to mark the location of the grave, but no writings are allowed. Buildings or other forms of structures are not allowed on top of the grave. Charity, fasting, prayers, and pilgrimage is often performed on behalf of the dead.
The Bahai Faith shroud and bury the body and are very similiar to other Middle Eastern religions with the exception of the use of 5 pieces of pure white SILK shrouds .
( Native American see above) African Americans are the first and oldest funeral professionals in the United States. Here is a wonderful history of African American Funeral Service from Woods Valentine Mortuary in Pasadena, CA:
20TH CENTURY FUNERAL PRACTICES IN THE USA-simply called . As the wealth grew from industry such as slavery, and cotton production, oil and the Industrial Revolution , elaborate funeral service became a status symbol of the wealthy who adopted the practices of the Roman Empire. (Below: The tomb of the Woolworths). The influence of European funeral practices were brought over by the first American immigrants from England, Portugal, Spain and France .They saw Native American funeral practices as "Pagan" (outlawed by the Church ) and buried in plain pine boxes on their own land in what we now simply called GREEN BURIAL. Women often saved and used their bridal veils as their burial shrouds .As the wealth grew from industry such as slavery, and cotton production, oil and the Industrial Revolution , elaborate funeral service became a status symbol of the wealthy who adopted the practices of the Roman Empire. (Below: The tomb of the Woolworths).
After Hospice, the body is prepared in the home or the funeral home by washing with soap and water and then rinsed with GREEN BURIAL WASH ™ a combination of floral waters and herbs . Then naked, the body is placed on top of the opened shroud and the first the face is covered and then the feet. If the shroud has a Heart Pocket it is then filled with memorial items (see PREPARATION page )Then the right wing is laid across the body followed by the LEFT wing, tucking any excess fabric underneath then all 4 sets of ties are tied across the body and the body .
CREMATION or IN CASKET SHROUDS -
KINKARACO ® shrouds come 2 ways with 2 different BACK styles: (Back #2) has 8 handles for lifting and carrying the wrapped shroud into a biodegradable casket or cremation container .
Each year, the 22,500 cemeteries across the U.S. bury:
30 million board feet of hardwoods in caskets
90,272 tons of steel in caskets
14,000 tons of steel in vaults
2,700 tons of copper and bronze in caskets
1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete in vaults
827,060 gallons of embalming fluid(Statistics complied by Mary Woodsen, Greensprings Cemetery 2007)
Lack of conservation
Lack of Global responsibilty
Depletion of the Earths natural resources consumed by Capitalist systems
Climate change (abnormal weather, droughts, massive storms, etc.)
The natural destruction of water systems caused by the latest sytem of "FRACKING " for "Natural Gas"
The exinction of native species of plants through Chemical fertilizers
The extinction of animals by poachers
And the non stop "WAR" that has no beginning and no apparent end
there has been a return to natural organically grown food, simple lifestyle, home childbirth and now natural or GREEN BURIAL.
KINKARACO ® shrouds were developed in 2004 as 100% biodegradable funeral products for people seeking this option.
KINKARACO ® took the Ancient shroud and made it easy to use for green burial & cremation .
BACK#1 -The ENDFINITY ® lowering device - has 4 handleswith lowering straps with an invisible board inside the spine. The wrapped body is placed in the back of the vehicle and carried by for pallbearers by the handles to graveside . At graveside the four straps are unfurled and the body is lowered into the grave with the straps laying in the grave beside the body. Then the entire family and friends fill in the grave with many shovels. Incense sticks can be lit and burned on grave where flowers and mementos have been laid.
The PURELIGHT ™ shroud 100% European Linen in the grave.
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