KAABA, the house of ALAAH in MECCA is covered by a black cloth called “KISWAH“. It is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Zil-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj.
Costs approximately US $ 17 MILLION.
The cloth is made of 670 kgs of SILVER and dyed BLACK. About 129 kgs. of PURE GOLD and 50 kgs. of SILVER used in writing the QURANIC VERSES over the cloth.
Total area of the cloth is 658 sq. meters.
The kiswa is wrapped around the Kaaba and fixed to its base with copper rings. The manually designed embroidery of the Quranic verses are slowly being aided by computers, thus increasing the speed of production.
Every year, the old Kiswa is removed, cut into small pieces, and given to certain individuals, visiting foreign Muslim dignitaries and organizations. Some of them sell their share as souvenirs of the Hajj.
The first time the Kaaba (Kaaba Old Photos of 1880 & 1953) was clothed was during the rule of the Jurhum tribe during the visit of King Tuba of Himyar (now in present-day Yemen). Prophet Mohammad (SAW) and the Muslims in Mecca did not participate in the draping of the Kaaba until the conquest of the city at 630 AD (7 AH), as the ruling tribe, Quraish, did not allow them to do so. When Mecca was taken by the Muslims, they decided to leave the Kiswah as it was until a woman lighting incense in the Kaaba accidentally set fire to the Kiswah. Prophet Mohammad (SAW) then draped it with a white Yemeni cloth.
Many notable Caliphs have had their share of ruling over the Kiswah. Al-Nasir, the Abbasid Caliph, established the current practise of dressing the Kaaba with only one Kiswah at a time, superseding the former custom of allowing old Kiswah to accumulate one over the other. When Al-Nasir performed Hajj in 160 AH, he saw that the accumulated Kiswah could cause damage to the Kaaba itself, and therefore decreed that only one Kiswah should drape the Kaaba at any one time.
The Caliph Al-Ma’mun, draped the Kaaba three times a year, each time with a different colour: red on the eighth of Dhu al-Hijjah, white gabati on the first of Rajab, and another red brocade on the twenty-ninth of Ramadan. Later on, Al-Nasir draped the Kaaba with green; both he and Al-Ma’mun disagreed on the frequent colour changes and switched to black, the only colour that has since been used for Kiswah.
Location of manufacture
From the time of the Ayyubids, precisely during the reign of as-Salih Ayyub, the Kiswah was manufactured in Egypt, with material sourced locally as well as from Sudan, India, and Iraq. The commander of the hajj caravan, who was directly designated by the sultans and later Ottoman Empires, transported the Kiswah from Egypt to Mecca on an annual basis. The tradition continued until 1927, when its manufacture was moved to Saudi Arabia.