Linen /ˈlɪnɪn/ is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is laborious to manufacture, but the fiber is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton. Garments made of linen are valued for their exceptional coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather.
The word linen is of West Germanic origin and cognate to the Latin name for the flax plant, linum, and the earlier Greek λινόν (linón). This word history has given rise to a number of other terms in English, most notably line, from the use of a linen (flax) thread to determine a straight line. Many products are made of linen: aprons, bags, towels (swimming, bath, beach, body and wash towels), napkins, bed linens, tablecloths, runners, chair covers, and men's and women's wear.
The collective term "linens" is still often used generically to describe a class of woven or knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles traditionally made of linen. In the past, "linens" also referred to lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waist-shirts, lingerie (a word also cognate with linen), and detachable shirt collars and cuffs, all of which were historically made almost exclusively out of linen. The inner layer of fine composite cloth garments (as for example jackets) was traditionally made of linen, hence the word lining.
Textiles in a linen weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibers, are also loosely referred to as "linen". Such fabrics generally also have their own specific names, for example fine cotton yarn in a linen-style weave is called Madapolam.
Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns, and various types of fabrics dating to about 8000 BC have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Dyed flax fibers found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back even earlier to 36,000 BP.
Linen was sometimes used as a form of currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand-spun yarns, were very fine for their day, but are coarse compared to modern linen. In 1923, the German city Bielefeld issued banknotes printed on linen. Today, linen is usually an expensive textile produced in relatively small quantities. It has a long staple (individual fiber length) relative to cotton and other natural fibers.
In ancient Mesopotamia, flax was domesticated and linen was first produced. It was used mainly by the wealthier class of the society, including priests. The Sumerian poem of the courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (Tammuz), translated by Samuel Noah Kramer and Diane Wolkstein and published in 1983, mentions flax and linen. It opens with briefly listing the steps of preparing linen from flax, in a form of questions and answers between Inanna and her brother Utu.
In ancient Egypt, linen was used for mummification and for burial shrouds. It was also worn as clothing on a daily basis; white linen was worn because of the extreme heat. The use of linen for priestly vestments was not confined to the Israelites; Plutarch wrote that the priests of Isis also wore linen because of its purity.
Linen fabric has been used for table coverings, bed coverings and clothing for centuries. The significant cost of linen derives not only from the difficulty of working with the thread, but also because the flax plant itself requires a great deal of attention. In addition flax thread is not elastic, and therefore it is difficult to weave without breaking threads. Thus linen is considerably more expensive to manufacture than cotton.
There is a long history of the production of linen in Ireland. The Living Linen Project was set up in 1995 as an oral archive of the knowledge of the Irish linen industry, which was at that time still available within a nucleus of people who formerly worked in the industry in Ulster.
When the tomb of the Pharaoh Ramses II, who died in 1213 BC, was discovered in 1881, the linen wrappings were in a state of perfect preservation after more than 3000 years. When the tomb of Tutankhamen was opened, the linen curtains were found to be intact.
The earliest records of an established linen industry are 4,000 years old, from Egypt, The earliest written documentation of a linen industry comes from the Linear B tablets of Pylos, Greece, where linen is depicted as an ideogram and also written as "li-no" (Greek: λίνον, linon), and the female linen workers are cataloged as "li-ne-ya" (λίνεια, lineia).
The Phoenicians, who, with their merchant fleet, opened up new channels of commerce to the peoples of the Mediterranean, and developed the tin mines of Cornwall, introduced flax growing and the making of linen into Ireland before the common era. It is not until the twelfth century that we can find records of a definite attempt to systematize flax production.
When the Edict of Nantes was revoked, in 1685, many of the Huguenots who fled France settled in the British Isles, and amongst them was Louis Crommelin, who settled in the town of Lisburn, about ten miles from Belfast. Belfast itself is perhaps the most famous linen producing center throughout history; during the Victorian era the majority of the world's linen was produced in the city which gained it the name Linenopolis.
Although the linen industry was already established in Ulster, Louis Crommelin found scope for improvement in weaving, and his efforts were so successful that he was appointed by the Government to develop the industry over a much wider range than the small confines of Lisburn and its surroundings. The direct result of his good work was the establishment, under statute, of the Board of Trustees of the Linen Manufacturers of Ireland in the year 1711. Several grades were produced from the coarsest lockram to the finest sasheen.
In Judaism, the only law concerning which fabrics may be interwoven together in clothing concerns the mixture of linen and wool, called shaatnez; it is restricted in Deuteronomy 22:11 "Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together" and Leviticus 19:19, "'...neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together.'" There is no explanation for this in the Torah itself and is categorized as a type of law known as chukim, a statute beyond man's ability to comprehend. Josephus suggested that the reason for the prohibition was to keep the laity from wearing the official garb of the priests, while Maimonides thought that the reason was because heathen priests wore such mixed garments. Others explain that it is because God often forbids mixtures of disparate kinds, not designed by God to be compatible in a certain way, with mixing animal and vegetable fibers being similar to having two different types of plowing animals yoked together. And that such commands serve both a practical as well as allegorical purpose, perhaps here preventing a priestly garment that would cause discomfort (or excessive sweat) in a hot climate.
Linen is also mentioned in the Bible in Proverbs 31, a passage describing a noble wife. Proverbs 31:22 says, "She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple." Fine white linen is also worn by angels in the Bible (Revelation 15:6).
Linen is a bast fiber. Flax fibers vary in length from about 25 to 150 mm (1 to 6 in) and average 12–16 micrometers in diameter. There are two varieties: shorter tow fibers used for coarser fabrics and longer line fibers used for finer fabrics. Flax fibers can usually be identified by their “nodes” which add to the flexibility and texture of the fabric.
Linen fabric feels cool to touch, a phenomenon which indicates its higher conductivity (the same principle that makes metals feel "cold"). It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free, and gets softer the more it is washed. However, constant creasing in the same place in sharp folds will tend to break the linen threads. This wear can show up in collars, hems, and any area that is iron creased during laundering. Linen has poor elasticity and does not spring back readily, explaining why it wrinkles so easily.
Linen fabrics have a high natural luster; their natural color ranges between shades of ivory, ecru, tan, or grey. Pure white linen is created by heavy bleaching. Linen fabric typically varies somewhat in thickness and is crisp and textured, but it can in some cases feel stiff and rough, and in other cases feel soft and smooth. When properly prepared, linen fabric has the ability to absorb and lose water rapidly. Linen can absorb a fair amount of moisture without feeling unpleasantly damp to the skin, unlike cotton. Linen is a very durable, strong fabric, and one of the few that are stronger wet than dry. The fibers do not stretch, and are resistant to damage from abrasion. However, because linen fibers have a very low elasticity, the fabric eventually breaks if it is folded and ironed at the same place repeatedly over time.
Mildew, perspiration, and bleach can also damage the fabric, but it is resistant to moths and carpet beetles. Linen is relatively easy to take care of, since it resists dirt and stains, has no lint or pilling tendency, and can be dry-cleaned, machine-washed or steamed. It can withstand high temperatures, and has only moderate initial shrinkage.
Linen should not be dried too much by tumble drying, and it is much easier to iron when damp. Linen wrinkles very easily, and thus some more formal garments require ironing often, in order to maintain perfect smoothness. Nevertheless, the tendency to wrinkle is often considered part of linen's particular "charm", and many modern linen garments are designed to be air-dried on a good clothes hanger and worn without the necessity of ironing.
A characteristic often associated with linen yarn is the presence of "slubs", or small knots which occur randomly along its length. In the past, slubs were traditionally considered to be defects, and were associated with low quality linen. However, in the case of many present-day linen fabrics, particularly in the decorative furnishing industry, slubs are considered as part of the aesthetic appeal of an expensive natural product. In addition, slubs do not compromise the integrity of the fabric, and therefore they are not viewed as a defect. However, the very finest linen has very consistent diameter threads, with no slubs at all.
The standard measure of bulk linen yarn is the "lea", which is the number of yards in a pound of linen divided by 300. For example, a yarn having a size of 1 lea will give 300 yards per pound. The fine yarns used in handkerchiefs, etc. might be 40 lea, and give 40x300 = 12,000 yards per pound. This is a specific length therefore an indirect measurement of the fineness of the linen, i.e., the number of length units per unit mass. The symbol is NeL.(3) The metric unit, Nm, is more commonly used in continental Europe. This is the number of 1,000 m lengths per kilogram. In China, the English Cotton system unit, NeC, is common. This is the number of 840 yard lengths in a pound.
The quality of the finished linen product is often dependent upon growing conditions and harvesting techniques. To generate the longest possible fibers, flax is either hand-harvested by pulling up the entire plant or stalks are cut very close to the root. After harvesting, the plants are dried, and the seeds are removed through a mechanized process called “rippling” (threshing) and winnowing.
The fibers must then be loosened from the stalk. This is achieved through retting. This is a process which uses bacteria to decompose the pectin that binds the fibers together. Natural retting methods take place in tanks and pools, or directly in the fields. There are also chemical retting methods; these are faster, but are typically more harmful to the environment and to the fibers themselves.
After retting, the stalks are ready for scutching, which takes place between August and December. Scutching removes the woody portion of the stalks by crushing them between two metal rollers, so that the parts of the stalk can be separated. The fibers are removed and the other parts such as linseed, shive, and tow are set aside for other uses. Next the fibers are heckled: the short fibers are separated with heckling combs by 'combing' them away, to leave behind only the long, soft flax fibers.
After the fibers have been separated and processed, they are typically spun into yarns and woven or knit into linen textiles. These textiles can then be bleached, dyed, printed on, or finished with a number of treatments or coatings.
An alternate production method is known as “cottonizing” which is quicker and requires less equipment. The flax stalks are processed using traditional cotton machinery; however, the finished fibers often lose the characteristic linen look.
Flax is grown in many parts of the world, but top quality flax is primarily grown in Western European countries and Ukraine. In recent years bulk linen production has moved to Eastern Europe and China, but high quality fabrics are still confined to niche producers in Ireland, Italy and Belgium, and also in countries including Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Britain and Kochi in India. High quality linen fabrics are now produced in the United States for the upholstery market and in Belgium. Russia is currently the major flax cultivating nation.
Over the past 30 years the end use for linen has changed dramatically. Approximately 70% of linen production in the 1990s was for apparel textiles, whereas in the 1970s only about 5% was used for fashion fabrics.
Linen uses range across bed and bath fabrics (tablecloths, bath towels, dish towels, bed sheets); home and commercial furnishing items (wallpaper/wall coverings, upholstery, window treatments); apparel items (suits, dresses, skirts, shirts); and industrial products (luggage, canvases, sewing thread). It was once the preferred yarn for handsewing the uppers of moccasin-style shoes (loafers), but has been replaced by synthetics.
Currently researchers are working on a cotton/flax blend to create new yarns which will improve the feel of denim during hot and humid weather.
Linen fabric is one of the preferred traditional supports for oil painting. In the United States cotton is popularly used instead, as linen is many times more expensive there, restricting its use to professional painters. In Europe, however, linen is usually the only fabric support available in art shops; in the UK both are freely available with cotton being cheaper. Linen is preferred to cotton for its strength, durability and archival integrity.
Linen is also used extensively by artisan bakers. Known as a couche, the flax cloth is used to hold the dough into shape while in the final rise, just before baking. The couche is heavily dusted with flour which is rubbed into the pores of the fabric. Then the shaped dough is placed on the couche. The floured couche makes a "non stick" surface to hold the dough. Then ridges are formed in the couche to keep the dough from spreading.
In the past, linen was also used for books (the only surviving example of which is the Liber Linteus). Due to its strength, in the Middle Ages linen was used for shields, gambesons, and bowstrings; in classical antiquity it was used to make a type of body armour, referred to as a linothorax.
Because of its strength when wet, Irish linen is a very popular wrap of pool/billiard cues, due to its absorption of sweat from hands. Paper made of linen can be very strong and crisp, which is why the United States and many other countries print their currency on paper made from 25% linen and 75% cotton.
An altar cloth is used by various religious groups to cover an altar. It may be used as a sign of respect towards the holiness of the altar, as in the Catholic Church. Because many altars are made of wood and are often ornate and unique, cloth may then be used to protect the altar surface. In other cases, the cloth serves to beautify a rather mundane construction underneath.Bands (neckwear)
Bands are a form of formal neckwear, worn by some clergy and lawyers, and with some forms of academic dress. They take the form of two oblong pieces of cloth, usually though not invariably white, which are tied to the neck. The word bands is usually plural because they require two similar parts and did not come as one piece of cloth. Those worn by clergy are often called preaching bands, preaching tabs, or Geneva bands; those worn by lawyers are called barrister's bands or, more usually in Canada, tabs.
Ruffs were popular in the sixteenth century, and remained so till the late 1640s, alongside the more fashionable standing and falling bands. Ruffs, like bands, were sewn to a fairly deep neck-band. They could be either standing or falling ruffs. Standing ruffs were common with legal, and official dress till comparatively late. Falling ruffs were popular circa 1615–1640s.Bedding
Bedding, also known as bedclothes or bed linen, is the materials laid above the mattress of a bed for hygiene, warmth, protection of the mattress, and decorative effect. Bedding is the removable and washable portion of a human sleeping environment. Multiple sets of bedding for each bed will often be washed in rotation and/or changed seasonally to improve sleep comfort at varying room temperatures. In American English, the word bedding generally does not include the mattress, bed frame, or bed base (such as box-spring), while in British English it does. In Australian, South African and New Zealand English, bedding is often called manchester.A set of bedding usually consists of a flat or fitted bed sheet that covers the mattress; a flat top sheet; either a blanket, quilt, or duvet, sometimes with a duvet cover which can replace or be used in addition to the top sheet; and a number of pillows with pillowcases, also referred to as pillow shams. (See § Terminology for more info on all these terms.) Additional blankets, etc. may be added to ensure the necessary insulation in cold sleeping areas. A common practice for children and some adults is to decorate a bed with plush stuffed animals, dolls, and other soft toys. These are not included under the designation of bedding, although they may provide additional warmth to the sleeper.Beetling
For the study and collection of beetles, see coleopterology.
Beetling is the pounding of linen or cotton fabric to give a flat, lustrous effect.Canvas
Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame. It is also used in such fashion objects as handbags, electronic device cases, and shoes.
Modern canvas is usually made of cotton or linen, along with polyvinyl chloride, although historically it was made from hemp. It differs from other heavy cotton fabrics, such as denim, in being plain weave rather than twill weave. Canvas comes in two basic types: plain and duck. The threads in duck canvas are more tightly woven. The term duck comes from the Dutch word for cloth, doek. In the United States, canvas is classified in two ways: by weight (ounces per square yard) and by a graded number system. The numbers run in reverse of the weight so a number 10 canvas is lighter than number 4.Closet
A closet (especially in North American usage) is an enclosed space used for storage, particularly that of clothes. "Fitted closet" are built into the walls of the house so that they take up no apparent space in the room. Closets are often built under stairs, thereby using awkward space that would otherwise go unused. A "walk-in closet" is a typically a very small windowless room attached to a bedroom, used for clothes storage.
A piece of furniture such as a cabinet or chest of drawers serves the same function of storage, but is not a closet. A closet always has space for hanging, whereas a cupboard may consist only of shelves for folded garments. The word "wardrobe" can refer to a free-standing piece of furniture (also known as an armoire), but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a wardrobe can also be a "large cupboard or cabinet for storing clothes or other linen", including "built-in wardrobe, fitted wardrobe, walk-in wardrobe, etc."Clothing in ancient Greece
Clothing in ancient Greece primarily consisted of the chiton, peplos, himation, and chlamys. Ancient Greek men and women typically wore two pieces of clothing draped about the body: an undergarment (chiton or peplos) and a cloak (himation or chlamys). Ancient Greek clothing was mainly based on necessity, function, materials, and protection rather than identity. Thus, clothes were quite simple, draped, loose-fitting and free flowing. Customarily, clothing was homemade and cut to various lengths of rectangular linen or wool fabric with minimal cutting or sewing, and secured with ornamental clasps or pins, and a belt, or girdle (zone). Pieces were generally interchangeable between men and women. However, women usually wore their robes to their ankles while men generally wore theirs to their knees depending on the occasion and circumstance.
While no clothes have survived from this period, descriptions exist in contemporary accounts and artistic depictions. Clothes were mainly homemade and locally made since trade with other cultures hadn't occurred yet. Additionally, clothing often served many purposes (such as bedding). All ancient Greek clothing was made out of natural fibers. Linen was the most common fabric due to the hot climate which lasted most of the year. On the rare occasion of colder weather, ancient Greeks wore wool. Common clothing of the time was plain white, or neutral colored, sometimes incorporating decorative borders. There is evidence of elaborate design and bright colors, but these were less common among lower class citizens. However, noble citizens wore bright colors to express their wealth as dyed clothing was more expensive. The clothing for both men and women generally consisted of two main parts: a tunic and a cloak.
The Greeks had a great appreciation for the human body, and it was shown in their fashion. The fabric was expertly draped around the body, and the cloth could be slightly transparent. Males had no problem with nudity, while women could only be naked in the public bath.Corporal (liturgy)
The corporal (arch. corporax, from Latin corpus "body") is a square white linen cloth, now usually somewhat smaller than the breadth of the altar, upon which the chalice and paten, and also the ciborium containing the smaller hosts for the Communion of the laity, are placed during the celebration of the Catholic Eucharist (Mass).Cotton duck
Cotton duck (from Dutch: doek, "linen canvas"), also simply duck, sometimes duck cloth or duck canvas, is a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric. Duck canvas is more tightly woven than plain canvas. There is also linen duck, which is less often used.
Cotton duck is used in a wide range of applications, from sneakers to painting canvases to tents to sandbags.Duck fabric is woven with two yarns together in the warp and a single yarn in the weft.Damask
Damask (; Arabic: دمشق) is a reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibres, with a pattern formed by weaving. Damasks are woven with one warp yarn and one weft yarn, usually with the pattern in warp-faced satin weave and the ground in weft-faced or sateen weave. Twill damasks include a twill-woven ground or pattern.Flax
Flax (Linum usitatissimum), also known as common flax or linseed, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textiles made from flax are known in the Western countries as linen, and traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word "flax" may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.Irish linen
Irish linen (Irish: Línéadach Éireannach) is the brand name given to linen produced in Ireland. Linen is cloth woven from, or yarn spun from the flax fibre, which was grown in Ireland for many years before advanced agricultural methods and more suitable climate led to the concentration of quality flax cultivation in northern Europe (Most of the world crop of quality flax is now grown in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands). Since about the 1950s to 1960s the flax fibre for Irish Linen yarn has been, almost exclusively, imported from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is bought by spinners who produce yarn and this, in turn, is sold to weavers (or knitters) who produce fabric. Irish linen spinning has now virtually ceased, yarns being imported from places such as the Eastern part of the European Union and China.
Weaving continues mainly of plain linens for niche, top of the range, apparel uses. Linen damask weaving in Ireland has less capacity, and it is confined at very much the top end of the market for luxury end uses. Companies including Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd continue to weave in Ireland tend to concentrate on the quality end of the market, and Jacquard weaving is moving towards the weaving of specials and custom damask pieces, made to the customers' own individual requirements. Fabric which is woven outside Ireland and brought to Ireland to be bleached/dyed and finished cannot carry the Irish Linen Guild logo, which is the Guild trademark, and signifies the genuine Irish Linen brand.
The Irish Linen Guild has defined Irish linen as yarn which is spun in Ireland from 100% flax fibres. Irish linen fabric is defined as fabric which is woven in Ireland from 100% linen yarns. It is not required that every stage from the growing of the flax to the weaving must take place in Ireland. To be Irish linen fabric the yarns do not necessarily have to come from an Irish spinner, and to be Irish linen (yarn) the flax fibre does not have to be grown in Ireland. However, the skills, craftsmanship, and technology that go into spinning the yarn must be Irish, as is the case with Irish linen fabric; where the design and weaving skills must be Irish, and all of such must take place in Ireland.
Finished garments, or household textile items can be labelled Irish linen, although they may have been made up in another country. Irish linen does not refer to the making up process (such as cutting and sewing). It refers to where the constituent fabric was woven or knitted.Lace
Lace is a delicate fabric made of yarn or thread in an open weblike pattern, made by machine or by hand.
Originally linen, silk, gold, or silver threads were used. Now lace is often made with cotton thread, although linen and silk threads are still available. Manufactured lace may be made of synthetic fiber. A few modern artists make lace with a fine copper or silver wire instead of thread.Lawn cloth
Lawn cloth or lawn is a fine plain weave textile, now chiefly of cotton. Terms also used include batiste and nainsook. Originally the name applied to plain weave linen, and linen lawn is also called "handkerchief linen".Lawn is designed using fine, high-thread-count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel. The fabric is made using either combed or carded yarns. When lawn is made using combed yarns, with a soft feel and slight luster, it is known as "nainsook".
The term lawn is also used in the textile industry to refer to a type of starched crisp finish given to a cloth product. The finish can be applied to a variety of fine fabrics, prints or plain.Moygashel
Moygashel (from Irish: Maigh gCaisil, meaning "plain of the stone fort") is a small village and townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is near the southern edge of Dungannon. Although the village's name is pronounced , the trademark of the Irish linen named after it is pronounced (with the stress on the first syllable). Is Also Known to be the homeland of an Infamous Van Driver Called Noel who referred to here and Dungannon Swifts Ground For directions through Northern IrelandPlain weave
Plain weave (also called tabby weave, linen weave or taffeta weave) is the most basic of three fundamental types of textile weaves (along with
satin weave and twill). It is strong and hard-wearing, used for fashion and furnishing fabrics.
In plain weave, the warp and weft are aligned so they form a simple criss-cross pattern. Each weft thread crosses the warp threads by going over one, then under the next, and so on. The next weft thread goes under the warp threads that its neighbor went over, and vice versa.
Balanced plain weaves are fabrics in which the warp and weft are made of threads of the same weight (size) and the same number of ends per inch as picks per inch.
Basketweave is a variation of plain weave in which two or more threads are bundled and then woven as one in the warp or weft, or both.A balanced plain weave can be identified by its checkerboard-like appearance. It is also known as one-up-one-down weave or over and under pattern.Examples of fabric with plain weave are chiffon, organza, percale and taffeta.Shades of white
Shades of white are colors that differ only slightly from pure white. Variations of white include what are commonly termed off-white colors, which may be considered part of a neutral color scheme.
In color theory, a shade is a pure color mixed with black (or having a lower lightness). Strictly speaking, a “shade of white” would be a neutral gray. This article is also about off-white colors that vary from pure white in hue, and in chroma (also called saturation, or intensity).
Colors often considered "shades of white" include cream, eggshell, ivory, Navajo white, and vanilla. Even the lighting of a room, however, can cause a pure white to be perceived as off-white.Off-white colors were pervasively paired with beiges in the 1930s, and especially popular again from roughly 1955 to 1975.Whiteness measures the degree to which a surface is white in colorimetry.Shroud
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.
A traditional Orthodox Jewish shroud consists of a tunic; a hood; pants that are extra-long and sewn shut at the bottom, so that separate foot coverings are not required; and a belt, which is tied in a knot shaped like the Hebrew letter shin, mnemonic of one of God's names, Shaddai. Early shrouds incorporated a cloth, the sudarium, that covered the face, as depicted in traditional artistic representations of the entombed Jesus or His friend, Lazarus (John 11, q.v.). An especially pious man may next be enwrapped in either his kittel or his tallit, one tassel of which is defaced to render the garment ritually unfit, symbolizing the fact that the decedent is free from the stringent requirements of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). The shrouded body is wrapped in a winding sheet, termed a sovev in Hebrew (a cognate of svivon, the spinning Hanukkah toy that is familiar under its Yiddish name, dreidel), before being placed either in a plain coffin of soft wood (where required by governing health codes) or directly in the earth. Croesus-rich or dirt-poor, every Orthodox Jew is dressed to face the Almighty on the same terms.
The Early Christian Church also strongly encouraged the use of winding-sheets, except for monarchs and bishops. The rich were wrapped in cerecloths, which are fine fabrics soaked or painted in wax to hold the fabric close to the flesh. An account of the opening of the coffin of Edward I says that the "innermost covering seems to have been a very fine linen cerecloth, dressed close to every part of the body". 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.
In Europe in the Middle Ages, coarse linen shrouds were used to bury most poor without a coffin. In poetry shrouds have been described as of sable, and they were later embroidered in black, becoming more elaborate and cut like shirts or shifts. 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.Undergarment
Undergarments are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer. They serve to keep outer garments from being soiled or damaged by bodily excretions, to lessen the friction of outerwear against the skin, to shape the body, and to provide concealment or support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional warmth. Special types of undergarments have religious significance. Some items of clothing are designed as undergarments, while others, such as T-shirts and certain types of shorts, are appropriate both as undergarments and as outer clothing. If made of suitable material or textile, some undergarments can serve as nightwear or swimsuits, and some are intended for sexual attraction or visual appeal.
Undergarments are generally of two types, those that are worn to cover the torso and those that are worn to cover the waist and legs, although there are also garments which cover both. Different styles of undergarments are generally worn by females and males. Undergarments commonly worn by females today include bras and panties (known in the United Kingdom as knickers), while males often wear briefs, boxer briefs, or boxer shorts. Items worn by both sexes include T-shirts, sleeveless shirts (also called singlets or tank tops), bikini underwear, thongs, and G-strings.