Black textile fragment, embroidered with  gold Qur’anic verses, red decoration separates the main verses with a roundels contain further Qur’anic references at the beginning edge.
AKM823, Section of a ceremonial covering (kiswa) for the Ka‘ba building at the heart of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque in Mecca

© The Aga Khan Museum

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Section of a ceremonial covering (kiswa) for the Ka’ba building at the heart of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque in Mecca
  • Accession Number:AKM823
  • Place:Cairo
  • Dimensions:850 x 91 cm
  • Date:late 19th – early 20th century
  • Materials and Technique:Black silk with red silk appliqué, embroidered in silver and silver gilt wire over cotton and silk thread padding

This fragment once belonged to a 47-meter long belt (hizam), embroidered with Qur’anic verses.

As one of the most prominent kiswa ornaments, the hizam traditionally runs the length of the Ka‘ba’s upper perimeter. The inscription here contains verses 27-29 from chapter 22 (Al-Hajj) of the Qur’an:


(Q22:27) ‘And proclaim to mankind the hajj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway. (Q22:28) That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor who have a very hard time. (Q22:29) Then let them complete their prescribed duties and perform their vows, and circumambulate the Ancient House.’


The roundels contain further Qur’anic references that mention ‘God the Eternal’ as well as the Prophet Muhammad.


The Ka‘ba receives a new drape every year during the pilgrimage season. After it ends, the kiswa is taken down, divided and either gifted to dignitaries or sold to raise money for charity.


– Ulrike Al-Khamis

Note: This online resource is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. We are committed to improving this information and will revise and update knowledge about this object as it becomes available.


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