The tradition of covering the Kaaba was started by the Quraysh in pre-Islamic times and was continued by the Muslims after the conquest of Makkah in 630 AD.The Kiswah, or covering, of the Kaaba, is probably the most visually stunning element of the structure. A pure black and gold cloth covering the cube in the center of the shining area, the Kiswah draws the eye and enhances the intense spiritual effects of seeing the Kaaba for the first time.
In early Islamic history, many different colours and styles of the Kiswah were used, with different Caliphs replacing the Kiswah at different times and frequencies. The current tradition of a simple black Kiswah being replaced annually was established by the 34th Abbasid caliph al-Nasir.
From the 12th century onwards, the Kiswah was manufactured in Egypt and transported to Makkah by the traditional main Hajj caravan which departed from Cairo. In 1927, the manufacturing moved to a factory in Makkah.
With 670kg of pure silk, as well as Qur’anic verses and supplications being handwoven with 120kg of the gold-covered silver thread, this covering does not come cheap. It takes 8 months to prepare, and the price tag of 20 million Saudi riyals (6.7 million AUD) is donated by the Saudi royal family every year.
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