500-year-old Kaaba cover highlight of the Abu Dhabi Book Fair

  • Gulf News
  • 1 May 2013

Kiswa from the times of Ottoman empire big draw at book fair

Abu Dhabi: A Ka'aba cover from the time of the longest reigning Ottoman emperor nearly 500 years ago was the highlight of the 23rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF 2013) that concluded this week.

Known to be the world's oldest known Ka'aba cover on public display, it was said to have been sent to Makkah by Sulaiman the Magnificent nearly 500 years ago. Also called a Kiswah, the artistically embroidered fabric ceremonially covers the Ka'aba before the Haj and was brought to ADIBF 2013 by Austrian company INLIBERS who handle preservation of ancient manuscripts and exhibits.

Rare Kiswah

According to the firm's owner, Hugo Wetscherek, there is no earlier recorded example of a Kiswah. "Our Kiswah is the same in every iconographic detail with a counterpart that can be found at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Both the name of Sultan Sulaiman and the year 950 in the Islamic calendar are stated in the splendid calligraphy and the date is confirmed by carbon dating technology", he said.

It is seen as the highest honour bestowed on any Muslim head of state to provide the cover for the Ka'aba.

ADIBF is the only place where this exhibit has been displayed to the public.