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The Egyptian legacy of producing the Kiswa

Thu, Aug. 31, 2017
CAIRO- 31 August, 2017: Today marks the annual occasion of changing the Kiswa of the Kaaba, the huge black silk cloth covering the Kaaba. But do you know that for centuries Egypt was honored to be the producer of the Kiswa?

Egyptian contribution in the production is almost as old as Islam itself. It started in the era of Omar Ibn al-Khattab caliphate, when the known famine happened during his rule, the Egyptian textile was used as the Kiswa of the Kaaba, due to its famous high quality.

But centuries later, in the early 14th century during the Fatimid rule, Egypt became the official producer of the Kiswa. It was sent in a venerable parade, carried by a huge camel, followed by other camels that carry the water and the luggage of the pilgrims. They were accompanied by soldiers to protect them throughout their journey till they reach Mecca. The camel that carries the kiswa is called Nabeel, Arabic for Nobel, and the next one was called Mabrouk, Arabic for Blessed.

A workshop that was specified in producing the kiswa was called Dar al-Khoronfosh at Gamaleya neighborhood in Cairo that was founded in 1233 AH, the early 19th century and it worked till 1962 when Egypt stopped producing it due to political tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

At Al Manial Palace in Giza, there is a skeleton of the huge camel Nabeel that used to carry the Kiswa. And the Egyptian textile museum in Cairo has a piece of the Egyptian made Kiswa, made in Egypt in 1942, that has a verse form the Quraan woven in gold and silver threads.
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