Cloak belonging to Sheikh Muhammad al-Khalili
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Before hegira 1146 / AD 1734, during the lifetime of the original owner
Polychrome silk and cotton woven together with woollen threads.
Length 145 cm, width 90 cm
Palestine or Syria.
A cloak ('Aba'a) or outer garment composed of small pieces (approximately 3 cm x 3 cm) sewn together. The pieces consist of woven silk and cotton stitched together with woollen thread. The background, in the form of polygons, is made up from interchanging colours that include yellow, red, green and black. The polygons are arranged within rectangles tightly woven in an elongated form, which would have made the wearer (Sheikh Muhammad al-Khalili) seem taller in stature than he was in reality. The woven section at the back of the garment between the shoulders is square, containing a circle of polygons arranged in circles, which become smaller by degrees as they move towards the centre of the circle. This gives the back of the cloak great depth and splendour. Two facing triangular sections in the corners of the square are red, while the two other corners are black. The garment has half sleeves finished with a band of green silk. This mode of outer garment was inspired by the asceticism and the piety of its wearer. It is made from very small pieces of cloth to make it appear as if it was woven from pieces of fabric. The Sheikh's cloak is considered a rarity, having survived in a complete state and in such beautiful condition.
Sheikh Muhammad al-Khalili was among the scholars of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) in Jerusalem and one of the most important personalities of Palestine at the time. In view of his distinctive position he was buried in the Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya located at the western wall of the Haram al-Sharif. This honour was bestowed on a select group which did not exceed 10 Islamic personalities over the course of history. Sheikh al-Khalili was renowned for wearing this cloak which was preserved for more than two centuries in his burial chamber until it was transferred to the Islamic Museum.
The cloak of a scholar of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and one of the most important personalities of Palestine in the AH 12th / AD 18th century. It covered his tomb. It is woven from small polygonal pieces in cotton and silk. The coat has half sleeves. This garment is a rare example to have survived almost completely intact.
Sheikh Muhammad bin Muhammad Sharaf al-Din Khalili (d. AH 1146 / AD 1734)
The garment is dated based on when the owner died.
The garment was spread out close to the tomb of the Shaikh Muhammad al-Khalili in the floor level of Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya; it was then transferred at an unknown date to the Islamic Museum.
Silk was woven during this period in different regions of Syria and Palestine. It is not possible to be precise about where this garment was produced.
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Cloak belonging to Sheikh Muhammad al-Khalili" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;39;en
Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 39