The Shroud in disguise?
In his book, 'The Turin Shroud', Ian Wilson makes a very convincing argument for the theory that in its earliest years the Shroud was in fact the Mandylion. Images of the Mandylion show a picture of a face, strangely isolated and separate, framed in a sort of trellis which was seemingly too wide for the single, 'disembodied' Face. Wilson believes this was the Shroud in disguise.

Next 2 foldings, producing
an image of the Face only

First folding, in half

The images Left and Above illustrate Ian Wilson's Theory of how the Shroud was folded for most of its history, disguising the fact that it was a full lenth gravecloth, and appearing instead to be a portrait of only a Face, the Mandylion.

In the Jewish religion graveclothes were regarded as unclean, and they were not to be touched. This taboo may explain the need to 'disguise' the Shroud at the beginning of its history.

Early Art Supports this Theory

Below are three artists' copies of the mandylion, all pre-1204 - the date when the Mandylion disappeared from Constantinople. They show a stretched taut appearance, the apparent trellis cover and (in the case of the Spas Neredisa example) what seem to be nails to which the cloth's fringe is attached.

Eleventh Century, Greek, Alexandria
Twelfth century, Gradac, Serbia

To read about Ian Wilson's theory of how the Mandylion became the Holy Shroud, see 'The Turin Shroud', Part IV - 'Towards a History - The Shroud and the Mandylion'.

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Late twelfth century, Spas Neredista, Russia