Makkah: The Holy Kaaba was adorned with a new cover (kiswa) on Wednesday. Officials from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques changed the kiswa under the supervision of kiswa factory director general Dr. Muhammad Bajoda.
As an annual custom, the new black cloth was placed on top of the Kaaba, at the center of the Grand Mosque, as some two million pilgrims converged on nearby Mount Arafat in the climax of pilgrimage.
The new Kiswa was handed over to the Keeper of the Kaaba Key in a ceremony held early morning, reflecting the significance of the event.
The ceremony started after Fajr prayer and continued until after Al-Asr (evening) prayer.
Changing the kiswa, which dates back to the pre-Islamic era, is regarded as one of the aspects of showing utmost glory and holiness to the House of Allah.
Officials from the Presidency and the factory took off the old Kiswa and installed the new one, which is made of pure silk and gold threads.
It is considered one of the most exquisite works of Islamic art.
The manufacturing of the Kiswa costs SR22 million every year. It takes 700 kg of pure silk, which is dyed black inside the factory, and 120 kg of silver and gold threads to make the Kiswa.
The Kiswa is 14 meters (42 feet) high, to match the height of the Kaaba, and 47 meters (141 feet) wide, enough to cover the four sides of the Kaaba, which are not identical in dimension.
Its upper half is decorated with a 95-centimeter (three-foot) wide strip featuring verses from the Holy Qur’an, inscribed in gold plated silver thread, which weigh 120 kilograms (264 pounds). The Kiswa is made of five pieces.
The fifth piece the curtain of its door. Nearly 650 kilograms (1,400 pounds) of natural silk was required to make the Kiswa.
The silk is imported, but the Kiswa was designed and tailored by more than 200 Saudi employees at a special factory set up by the Kingdom some 30 years ago.
The kiswa factory is situated in Umm Al-Joud in Makkah where more than 240 personnel are employed. It has different departments equipped with state-of-the-art machinery used for dying, embroidering, adorning, and sewing the Kiswa. The factory also has the largest sewing machine, which is 16 meters long.