The Shroud of Kaaba: The Making of Kiswa


Throughout Islamic history, it has been considered a great honour to be able to perform a service to the Kaaba, in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. One of these services, performed by both kings and commoners, is to partake in the covering of the Kaaba with the Kiswa – its drape. This contribution can be carried out in many ways; from funding the making of the Kiswa, to sewing it.

The Kaaba with the Kiswa (photo: Arts)

The Kiswa is made of natural silk dyed in black. The covering is embroidered with the phrases: Oh God, There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God; The Most Loving, the Benefactor; Glory be to God and Praise be to God; and Glory is to God the Great.

Embroidering the fabric of the Kiswa with silver and gold threads (photo: Arts)

The cloth is 14 metres high. On the top third of the cloth is the Kiswa belt, which is 95 centimetres wide and 45 metres long. It consists of 16 pieces and surrounds the Kiswa from all sides. The belt is embroidered with protruding designs that are enamelled with silver threads covered with gold, showing Quranic verses in the Ath-Thuluth style of Arabic calligraphy.

Under the belt, at each corner of the Kaaba, the surah of Ikhlas (Purity of Faith) is written inside a circle surrounded by a square of Islamic embellishment. At the same level, also under the belt, there are six verses of the Holy Quran, each written in a separate frame. On the areas separating these frames there is the shape of a lamp on which either of the following phrases is written: ”O’ you the Alive, the Self Subsisting”; “The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful; or “Praise be to God”. All that is written under the belt is covered by silver and gold threads – designs introduced during Saudi reign. Each side of the Ka’ba has certain Quranic verses written on it. The four sides are as follows: the side of Al-Multazam, the side of Al Hijr, the side facing the Door of Abraham, and the side between the Two Corners.

The following photos depict the process of constructing the Kiswa for the Kaaba.

Spinning the fabric (photo: Arts)

Combing through the fabric (photo: Arts)

Sewing the fabric together (photo: Arts)

Sewing the fabric together part II (photo: Arts)

Sewing the fabric together part III (photo: Arts)

Constituting the fabric (photo: Arts)

Threading the fabric (photo: Arts)

Embroidering the fabric (photo: Arts)

Embroidering the fabric part II (photo: Arts)

Embroidering the fabric part III (photo: Arts)

Embroidering the fabric part IV (photo: Arts)