In the days when the body lay in state in the parlor, it was the custom to cover everything in black. Draperies, with their fancy frills and tassels, are more elaborate than a simple shroud. They allow the expression of mourning to linger long after the body has been taken out the front door and the accoutrements have been stowed for the next death in the family.
Curtains can also set the stage. Parted, they reveal a telling excerpt. What is important in such displays is the main actor or central object of the stone. See also shroud.
Photo: Burying Ground, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Copyright 2000 by Joel GAzis-SAx