Home > History, Image Theory, Science > Banding: Maybe Jesus Looked Different

Banding: Maybe Jesus Looked Different

March 13, 2012

imageA reader writes:

I keep reading about banding but I don’t understand what caused it and why it is significant.

Linen in the first century, in the Middle East, was hank bleached. It was an imprecise method resulting in some yarn being whiter and some slightly darker  or off-white. This resulted in variegated patterns in linen cloth as different hanks of yarn were fed into the loom. See contrast-enhanced photograph of variegated patterns

Some of the bands of different shades of white (now perhaps more yellowed and browned with age) are narrow and some are quite wide.

The variegation, or banding as it is sometimes called, produces a visual background noise pattern that alters the way we see things on the Shroud.

The face of the man of the shroud is gaunt. That is a common observation. The nose is   narrow, eye sockets exceedingly deep, the hair seems to fall straight. At least that is how is seems. Look carefully and you will see that the gaunt appearance is the result of  dark vertical bands on each side of the face on the outer part of the cheeks. There are faint, less perceptible bands on each side of the nose and a horizontal band across the eyes, as well.

Fourier transform filters can be used to mathematically find these bands and minimize their effect. Notice how filtering seems to change the shape of the face and nose and makes the eyes look more normal. The hair is less forward. It doesn’t actually change the shape of the face; it merely minimizes the background noise and allows details to emerge.

It is very unlikely that the linen cloth used for the Shroud was produced in medieval Europe. Such cloth was field bleached after weaving. Medieval European linen was not hank-bleached. Instead, the woven cloth was soaked in hot lye solution, washed, soaked in sour milk and washed again. Other ingredients, like cattle urine were sometimes used, as well. Following this treatment the cloth was spread out in fields in the sun. This process eliminated variegation.

To my way of thinking banding provides strong evidence that the cloth is not medieval. It  also  provides a strong argument against opaque imaging methods. That would certainly be some paints, the metals produced from photosensitive salts.  I don’t know about scorching. I rather suspect that it would not prohibit very light scorching.

The most significant aspect of banding is realizing that the man whose image appears on the shroud may not have looked like we think he does:

Categories: History, Image Theory, Science
  1. AnnieCee
    March 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Also, by the time Christ died he was extremely dehydrated, almost depleted of blood entirely. From descriptions of the crucifixion, medical professionals have determined that he died of heart failure due to extreme blood and fluid loss. Basically, Christ bled out from His many wounds: which would have made his eyes very sunken due to the extreme dehydration. The gaunt appearance that is evident on the Shroud indicates more than just a man who was slender: it also confirms the description of Christ’s death in the Gospels.

    The Lamb who was slain… the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament was drained of blood. The blood was the most significant part of the sacrifice, because it was the blood that was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. It seems that Christ gave every last drop for our atonement, He did not spare a bit of Himself but truly gave all so that His death would be the last and final sacrifice.

    Also, I feel as if I need to repeat this over and over in order to UNDO the damage done by the movie The Passion: Christ was not a victim. At no time was he ever a captive of the Romans or the Jews. The scriptures make it clear that He did this willingly, that He died when He decided it was time to die and that Christ raised Himself from the dead when the 3 days were completed.

    Christ was not a victim!! What we see on that Shroud was done in submission to the Father’s Will. The Shroud is a monument to Holy Obedience, and it should serve as an example for all true believers of what “discipleship” truly means.

  2. AnnieCee
    March 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I can’t remember now why I started on that tangent… Oh yes, it’s because the writer mentioned that Christ probably looked different once you eliminate the banding in the linen. I think the linen studies are very interesting and it’s great that they help to confirm the origin of the Shroud. But do I think it’s important to remember that Christ was definitely not at his best when that image was made. Although they’ve been able to extrapolate a computer-generated image from the Shroud that is quite attractive, I think the image on the Shroud may not look anything like the Christ before he was so brutalized.

  3. Yannick Clément
    March 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Quote from Dan : “To my way of thinking banding provides strong evidence that the cloth is not medieval.”

    I agree totally.

    I also want to add this quote from Yannick Clément : “To my way of thinking banding provides VERY strong evidence that Ray Rogers hypothesis about the chromophore responsible for the image (Rogers said it is a very thin layer of impurities on the top surface of the cloth that was colored) is correct.”

    I also want to give all of you a personal reflection about another quote from Dan. He said : “The most significant aspect of banding is realizing that the man whose image appears on the shroud may not have looked like we think he does.”

    I would say this : It is true that the banding effect could have produce an image that is a bit different from what Jesus really looked like at the moment of his death. But it is also most probably true that the image on the Shroud is somewhat different (to what extend I don’t know) from the real aspect of the Resurrected Jesus, simply because the Gospels tell us that even his closest friends had difficulties to recongnized him !!! So, if you think the Risen Christ looked like the image on the Shroud, I’m sorry but I disagree with you ! This image is the one of the dead Christ, and not the image of the Risen one !!!! Again, how much different ? It’s just impossible to respond. But if we believe the testimony of the Gospel writers, we have to agree that the image that is on the Shroud don’t look exactly like the Risen Christ that was seen by the disciples…

    I think most people forget this interesting aspect of the question regarding the Shroud of Turin. It’s an image of the humanity of Christ, not an image of his divinity.

  4. Ron
    March 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I get what your saying Annie, that is why I think one should really watch the film “The Real Face of Jesus’. Not only for the wonderful final portrait of Jesus at or near the end, but sometime earlier when Downing shows how they clear the banding and the herringbone weave from the image, I can’t remember what they called the procedure, but when the software ran it’s course and the image was cleared of most all interference, the face showed such a loving power. Although obvious the torture received and shown all over the image, the image of the face seems to show a serene and majestic look. Not one of a tortured victim, but one of accomplishment.


    • AnnieCee
      March 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      “Not one of a tortured victim, but one of accomplishment.”

      Yes, that’s true. I hadn’t thought about it but the face does have expression. He looks peaceful, not tormented. Perhaps even “satisfied”, as if he was thinking, “I’m glad that’s over with.” A job well done.

      The Shroud is truly amazing, in all that it conveys. Although I had not been very interested in the Shroud before I found this blog, it would be difficult now to convince me that it is NOT the real Shroud of Christ. There is so much about the image that is authentic.

      And the fact that it drives the atheists crazy: well that seems like God’s sense of humor, as well as his Mercy in trying to reach out to a bunch of hardheads.

  5. March 14, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Anyone would think this banding hypothesis (neat, plausible but wrong) had been written on tablets of stone.

    A few moments of thought about the imprinting of a certain transverse crease should be sufficient to demolish any notion that vertical banding was the cause of the gaunt-looking features. There is another explanation for the cut-off peripheries of the face, and it’s nothing to do with colour variations in the yarn, and everything to do with the mechanism of image imprinting,

    But I’m not here to debate technical matters – not any more.

    I’m thinking of setting up a new site that will specifically address this and then rest of Shroudology’s received wisdom, which all too often strikes me as little more than tendentious pseudo-scientific twaddle. And no, I will not be intimidated by “Fourier transforms” and similar injections of computer mumbo-jumbo, which in this instance has contributed precisely nothing.

    I’ll give you a link when my new site is ready .

  6. Max Patrick Hamon
    March 14, 2012 at 8:22 am


    “Vertical banding is not the cause of the gaunt-looking features”. I do agree with you but I guess NOT EXACTLY for the same reason you implied. In the most likely hypothesis the Shroud is Rabbi Yeshua’s, there are actually more archaeological explanations for “the cut-off peripheries” (or more exactly the presence of two squared U shaped discontinuous boxes we can see framing up the Shroud face).

    BTW how are your “lightly baked/cooked mummified monk skeletons/cadavers in the manner of the Turin Shroud” doing? CAN YOU show us (before Easter or Trinity) any “thermostencil”/
    ”scorchography” on linen of the face, arm, leg, toe or even fingernail of any of them just in case it is not mere scorchoscientistic kitchen mummo-numbo-jumbo which in this instance would have contributed precisely NOTHING?

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