() was originally a garment
made of coarse cloth or animal hair (a hairshirt
) used in some religious traditions to induce some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement. In more modern religious circles, the word has come to simply mean any device worn for the same purposes.
The word derives from the Latin cilicium
, a covering made of goat's hair from Cilicia
, a Roman province
in south-east Asia Minor
. The reputed first Scriptural use of this exact term is in the original Latin Vulgate
35:13, "Ego autem, cum mihi molesti essent, induebar cilicio."
This is translated as hair-cloth
in the Douai Bible, and as sackcloth
in the King James Version
and the Book of Common Prayer
("But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth."
in the King James Bible). Sackcloth is often mentioned in the Bible
as a symbol of mourning
and penance, and probably was a form of hairshirt. Sackcloth may also mean burlap
There is some evidence, based on analyses of both clothing represented in art and preserved skin imprint patterns at Çatalhöyük
in Turkey, that the usage of the cilice predates written history. This finding has been mirrored at Göbekli Tepe
, another Anatolian site, indicating the widespread manufacturing of cilices. Ian Hodder has argued that "self-injuring clothing was an essential component of the Catalhöyük culturoritual entanglement, representing 'cleansing'... Read More