Curtain for Door of the Ka‘bah

Location: Cairo, Egypt; commissioned by Sultan Suleyman III (r. 1687–1691)

Materials: black silk, with coloured silk appliqués, relief embroidered in silver and silver-gilt wire over cotton thread padding

Dimensions: 492 x 242cm

Accession Number: TXT 259


The sitarah (or curtain) for the door of the Ka‘bah – known also as the burdah or the burqu‘ – was by far the most elaborate part of the kiswah and was replaced annually. Since Mamluk times, sitarahs were made in Egypt, and left Cairo with the kiswah accompanied by the caravan of pilgrims amidst great pomp and circumstance.
The design of this curtain follows that of the earliest known Ottoman sitarah which was made to the order of Sultan Suleyman the magnificent in AH 950 (AD 1543–4). It is characterised by the combination of the five arches at the top, the zigzag panels either side of the door opening and the calligraphic outer border which carries a repetition of Surat al-Ikhlas.