The bier is a flat frame, traditionally wooden but sometimes made of other materials. In antiquity it was often simply a wooden board on which the dead was placed, covered with a shroud. In modern times, however, the corpse is almost never carried on the bier without being first placed in a coffin, though the coffin is sometimes kept open.
A bier is often draped with cloth, to add to the dignity of the funeral service. The modern funeral industry uses a collapsible aluminum bier on wheels, known as a "church truck" to more conveniently move the coffin in and out of the church or funeral home for services.