• Kiswa Factory

    The Kiswa Factory in Makkah is a renowned institution dedicated to the creation of the Kiswa, the cloth that adorns the Kaaba. The current factory in Umm Al-Joud has been established since 1977.

    What is the Kiswa?

    The Kiswa is the black silk cloth that covers the Kaaba, located in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. It is intricately embroidered with Quranic verses in gold and silver threads. The process of creating the Kiswa involves skilled artisans and takes several months to complete. Traditionally, the Kiswa is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage season on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    Manufacture of the Kiswa

    1. Dyeing

    The dyeing process is the first stage in the production of the Kiswa. The best types of pure natural silk are sourced from Italy. The silk is then dyed in the factory’s dyeing department to achieve the desired colour for the Kiswa.

    2. Automated Weaving

    The outer covering of the Kiswa is woven using a Jacquard machine, with which Quranic verses are imprinted. The number of threads for the external Kiswa amounts to about 9,986 threads per metre. These threads are arranged and woven to create a durable fabric that can withstand exposure to natural elements for a year. The fabric for the embroidery of Quranic verses has about 10,250 threads with a width of 205 cm.

    3. Laboratory Testing

    The laboratory ensures that the threads meet the required number, tensile strength, and resistance specifications. Dye colours are formulated and tested on miniature samples to select the best options. After dyeing, the fabric samples undergo further testing for colour fastness, thickness, resistance to friction, and Makkah weather conditions. Research is conducted to improve fabric quality and durability.

    4. Printing

    Established in 1399 AH (1979 CE), the printing department uses the silkscreen method to print Quranic verses and decorations on the Kiswa. A synthetic silk fabric stretched on a wooden screen is prepared with a sensitive film that hardens under light, leaving open pores for printing the design. Special inks are then applied to the fabric through the open pores, accurately printing the required designs.

    5. Embroidery

    The embroidery of the Kiswa involves placing cotton threads of different densities over the printed lines and decorations. Yellow cotton threads are used for gold embroidery, and white cotton threads are used for silver embroidery. These threads form the base structure, which is then covered with gold-plated silver wires, creating prominent golden embroidery that stands 1-2.5 cm above the fabric surface.

    6. Sewing and Assembly

    Here, the large pieces of fabric produced by the Jacquard machine are assembled. Each piece is 10 cm wide and 14 metres long. The pieces are joined while maintaining the design alignment and then lined with cotton fabric for durability. The sections are sewn together using the world’s largest sewing machine, featuring automatic control systems and laser line devices for precise alignment.

    Annual Celebration

    After completing all production stages, an annual celebration is held in mid-Dhul Qa’dah at the Kiswa Factory. The finished Kiswa is ceremoniously delivered to the Kaaba’s Caretaker during this event. The General President of the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s ﷺ Mosque also presents a specially produced bag for the key to the Kaaba door.

    History of the Kiswa Factory

    First Saudi Kiswa Factory

    After Egypt halted the sending of the Kiswa in 1345 AH (1926 CE), the Saudi government swiftly took action. They established the first factory for weaving the Kiswa in the Ajyad region of Makkah under the reign of King Abdulaziz. This one-story factory, inaugurated in 1346 AH (1927 CE), marked the beginning of domestic production of the Kaaba covering. With a workforce of 60 workers, including skilled embroiderers, the factory successfully completed its first Kiswa by the end of 1346 AH (1927 CE). This factory operated for ten years until 1355 AH (1936 CE) when Egypt resumed sending the Kiswa.

    Reopening

    In 1382 AH (1962 CE), after Egypt ceased sending the Kiswa in 1381 AH (1961 CE), the Saudi government reopened the Kiswa factory. Operational until 1397 AH (1977 CE), it marked a renewed commitment to domestic production of the Kaaba covering.

    Umm Al-Joud Kiswa Factory

    In 1397 AH (1977 CE), a new chapter began with the opening of the Umm Al-Joud kiswah factory in Makkah under the auspices of Prince Fahd bin Abdulaziz. This modern facility boasted advanced departments for dyeing, weaving, embroidery, and assembly and employed around 200 workers. Under the supervision of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s ﷺ Mosque, the factory experienced significant advancements in textile and quilting technology.

    Modernization and Expansion

    During the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, the factory received special attention, witnessing expansions and technological advancements. Mechanical innovations reduced reliance on manual labour, and state-of-the-art weaving and knitting machines were introduced, enhancing the intricacy and beauty of the Kaaba covering.

    Cultural Significance

    The Kiswa Factory serves not only as a production hub but also as a cultural landmark. It houses a collection of valuable antiques and artefacts from Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi, showcasing the history of the Kaaba covering. Open to visitors worldwide, the factory receives thousands of visitors annually, offering insights into the intricate process of Kaaba covering production.

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