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Craftsmen demonstrate decoration of Kiswah

Visitors to Haj exhibition at Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque see how the cover of Kaaba is made

Image Credit: Supplied
Craftsmen decorating the silk covering of the Kaaba.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Craftsmen from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswah have performed a live display of the decoration of the silk covering of the Kaaba, which will be used during the next Haj season.

The Kaaba is the cubical structure in the middle of the Grand Mosque in Makkah that all Muslims face towards when praying.

The demonstration was held at the Haj: Memories of a Journey exhibition at Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre (SZGMC), and was part of a series of workshops to demonstrate the live embroidery. Held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the exhibition has been organised by SZGMC, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, and is now open to the public until March 19, 2018.

The presentation by skilled craftsmen demonstrated the embroidery using original silk pieces of cladding. This ornate protective covering is replaced on the eve of the day of Arafat each year, corresponding to the ninth day of the Dhu Al Hijja month every year.

The cloth used by the Kiswah craftsmen included pieces of silk in black, a colour most commonly associated with the Kaaba, inscribed with Quranic verses embroidered with silver and gold threads.

The cloth was further decorated with 21 interlaced patterns on all four sides and adorned with religious invocations and praises of Allah across the top, as well as additional inscriptions and decorations that cover the cladding from all sides.

The craftsmen demonstrated to visitors how to sew and embellish the patterns and decorations that characterise the actual material from which the Kiswah is made and the embroidery that is used on it.

The workers typically require a variety of materials including pieces of silk clothes, cotton, silver, gold and black dye. The production and embroidery of the cloth takes eight to nine months, using 670kg of silk, 100kg of gold-plated thread and 120kg of silver thread, measuring a total of 14 metres in height and 655 metres in area.

Zamzam water bottles were also distributed to visitors, along with souvenirs, prints and books on the history of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswah.

The complex is not only solely dedicated to overseeing the weaving of the Kiswah, but also takes care of the Kaaba round the clock through a specially deployed unit of tailors inside the Grand Mosque. The complex also produces official flags and government logos for participation in events and exhibitions inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

More information can be found using the hashtag #HajjExhibition on Twitter and @szgmc_ae on Instagram. Details are also available on or by calling 024191919.