VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Fragment of a hizam
2000.327
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Embroidered in gilt and silver threads, the fragment features Qur’anic verses in jali (monumental) thuluth script. The panel features parts of verse 97 and all of verse 98 from Surah Ali ‘Imran (The Family of Imran). The calligraphy stands out from the background. The three-dimensional effect is achieved by embroidering the letters over cotton wadding. This piece and other fragments of the kiswah are very much sought after by pilgrims as barakah (blessings). The piece also highlights the importance of calligraphy in Islamic art - the curtain that covers the most sacred sanctuary in Islam is embroidered with the Words of God.

History of the Object
This silk fragment came from the kiswah which is the curtain that is used to cover the four walls of the Holy Ka‘bah in Mecca. Each year during the haj (pilgrimage) the kiswah is replaced. The previous year’s kiswah is cut up and sold or distributed as barakah (blessings) to pilgrims. Parts of the hizam are usually presented to various dignitaries. This long piece would probably be such a piece. From the Mamluk period (1250 to 1517 CE) until 1962, the kiswah was traditionally made in Egypt, except during periods of political disturbances, for example, during the French occupation of Egypt between 1798-1801. A lavish camel caravan would carry the kiswah to Mecca, which was historically presented by the leading Muslim regime. The acceptance of the kiswah by the authorities in Mecca was an acknowledgment of the donor’s political powers. After 1962 till this day, the honour of bestowing the kiswah belongs to the King of Saudi Arabia. It is made in a workshop in Mecca.

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Type
Textile 
Materials
Gilded silver and silver threads on silk 
Measurements
89 x 538 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Egypt 
Geography
Egypt 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th century; early 
Function
The hizam is the embroidered calligraphic band that is found on the kiswah or curtain that covers the Ka'bah in Mecca. 
Acquisition
The museum acquired this piece in 2000. This piece fits nicely in the museum's gallery to highlight the importance of the haj or pilgrimage in Islam. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Tan Huism 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 

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