Kiswa is the cloth that covers the Holy Kaaba, the centrepiece of the grand mosque at Mecca, and the direction in which Muslims world over turn to pray. The kiswa was traditionally crafted in Egypt before the Saudi Kingdom started making it in a factory in 1962. The gold embroidered kaaba cover has gone through many changes over the years.
About Kiswa Factory
Because of the great significance of the holy kaaba, an official kiswa factory was established during the period of King Abdul Aziz in 1364H with Sheikh Abdul Rahman Muzhar.
The factory produced its first kiswa in the same year and later they expanded their work from three sections to a total of six.
The making of kaaba kiswa is divided into five major stages.
1. Dyeing The Kiswa
The first step is dyeing the cloth, which begins with the raw silk soaked in hot water for 24 hours with soaps and other elements.
Then the silk turns in drizzling white in colour, and then they dyed it in colour black or green depending on which part of the kiswah it is for. All the treads that are going to be used in the lining have to be dyed in the appropriate colour.
Weaving is the second stage in the making process of the kaaba cover. In the beginning, most of the weaving was done by hand. For those parts of the kaaba cover that are larger in size and don’t require great artistic delicacy, the weaving is done by machines. The human artistic touch is also very important as no machine can replace the work of artistic hands that is why hand weaving is still in use for delicate parts.
3. Calligraphy Printing
Now let’s come to the next step which is printing all the designs and the calligraphy that is going to be placed on the “Hizam ” or the other parts of the kaaba cover which are embroidered.
4. Embroidery Of The Holy Kiswa
The second last step is the actual embroidery phase of the kiswa, it is the most important, time-consuming strenuous stage of the kiswa-making process. All the designs and calligraphy on the kaaba cover are embroidered by hands in silver and gold wirings.
The designs and verses of the Quran are filled with cotton stuffing and then covered in cotton threads of yellow and white in adjacent positions. Then they cover it in gold and silver wire embroidery which protrudes from the kiswa up to two centimetres which is why this process can not be done by machines.
5. Dressing the Kaaba Kiswa
Now let’s cover the last and final step of the kiswa-making process which is the preparation process for dressing the kaaba. This process involves coordinating and locating the four corners of the kiswa so that the proper designs and verses of the Quran can be displayed properly in their specified place.
For Muslim people, there are two Eids – two special days that they celebrate. One is at the end of the month of Ramadan – the fasting month of Muslims and the second one is at the end of the Hajj.
Each year by the 9th day of Dul Hijjah, the month of Hajj, the new kiswa cover is ready and prepared to dress the holy Kaaba.
Story Behind The Black Colour of Kiswa
The Kiswa used to get changed from time to time whenever the fabric was available from the era of the Rashidun Caliphate and Abbasids.
At the end of the Abbasid era, Black colour was finally chosen as the colour of the kaaba cover because it was durable and could withstand being touched by pilgrims or visitors and people who came from all over the world.
As the Umrah season continues, Al Dahas said to lift the kaaba cover to the middle of the kaaba to prevent it from touching the visitors.
Gold Thread Embroidery of Kaaba Kiswa
The kaaba cover (kiswah) is made up of pure white silk cloth (later dyed in black) with threads of gold which cost more than SR22 million. It is manufactured in a specialised factory in Mecca which is manned by 240 technicians, administrators and weavers.
The kaaba kiswa is 95 cm wide and nine metres high. It is made of 47 pieces of silk cloth which join together to cover all the corners of the kaaba.
The holiest site, the kaaba was dressed in its new kaaba cover on Sunday after Fajr prayer by 86 technicians and weavers.
They cover the kaaba with its new kiswa on the day of Arafat every year. During the same day, the grand mosque is usually empty because all the people are gathered in Arafat.
The women get the opportunity to spend the whole in the grand mosque for prayers and tawaf.