Name of Object:
Kiswa (tomb cover) for the Prophet of God, Ibrahim (Abraham)
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Date of Object:
Hegira 1203–22 / AD 1789–1807
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Silk embroidered with silver silk threads.
Length 180 cm, width 210 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Probably produced in either Syria or Istanbul, but made specifically for the Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil).
There was a tradition in both the Mamluk and the Ottoman periods, for sultans, noble personages of state, as well as the benevolent, to interest themselves in the tombs of the prophets and the devout by offering a kiswa (covering for a grave or tomb), and then to renew it each year or whenever necessary. The ritual draping of tombs and shrines were popular celebrations that took place in certain seasons every year. For the most part, this occurred in order to procure the good-will and approval of visitors to the tomb or shrine, and to enhance the popularity of the kiswa's donor among the general public. It was during the Ottoman period in Palestine that there was a huge unparalleled interest in the tombs, shrines and holy places that were scattered throughout the region. This was within the context of the official interest in the Sufi orders, their sheikhs, and the venues where the rituals were practiced. An example of this veneration can be seen in the context of the tombs of the Prophets Moses, Samuel and David, and their wives, in al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil).
View Short Description
The coverings of the prophets’ tombs were renewed every year in popular celebrations. The importance of these traditions increased during the Ottoman period. This covering woven of green silk envelops the tomb leaving only the tombstone on which is written the name of the deceased. The tughra of Ottoman Sultan Selim III is embroidered on it.
The Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil)
How date and origin were established:
The piece was dated by the inscription embroidered on it which bears the name of the donor, the Ottoman sultan, Selim III.
How Object was obtained:
The piece was transferred from al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil) to the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem at an unknown date.
How provenance was established:
It is likely that this piece was made in Syria or Istanbul in view of the similarities with other pieces made there, some of which are housed in Turkish museums, particularly in Istanbul.
Citation of this web page:
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Kiswa (tomb cover) for the Prophet of God, Ibrahim (Abraham)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;38;en