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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

Egypt

Kiswah (two pieces from the door panel sections) c.1917-18

RCIN 97340

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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This fine panel of embroidery is part of the Kiswah, or curtain, used to cover the cube-shaped building called the Ka’ba in the Great Mosque at Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site. Every year a new curtain is made and the old one cut up to distribute to organisations and pilgrims who have journeyed there on Hajj. In 1918, the King of Hejaz (now Saudi Arabia) gave Queen Mary, consort of King George V, two pieces from the door panel sections of the Kiswah. The circle in the middle contains the first four verses of chapter 112 of the Qur'an, Surah al-Ikhlas (the Unity, or Sincerity). The invocation 'Allah, great is His splendour' (Allahu jalla jalalahu) is repeated on the four corners.

Kiswahs were made in Egypt and transported to Mecca for the Hajj until 1927, when manufacture moved to Saudi Arabia.