Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 Sumiyo Okumura.

A corrigenda (2015) is attached below.


A Kaaba curtain is a door curtain which covers the door of the holy Kaaba, the most sacred site of Islam in Mecca. Upon the occasion of the conquest of Egypt and Hejaz by Sultan Selim I in 1517, Selim I donated a Kaaba door curtain to the Bursa Grand Mosque, one of the five most important mosques in the Islamic World. This Mamluk curtain is very different from Ottoman Kaaba curtains in both its shape and design motifs. It is noticeable that five fragments, including a piece of inscription, hang down from the upper border. We see a similar shape in the piece of the Mamluk curtain in the Topkapı Palace Museum Collection. Although the Mamluk Kaaba curtain is quite worn, it is decorated with beautiful Dival embroideries, using white and yellow gold metallic threads. Blazons of the Dawadar are visible within the embroidery. We also examine and compare six Mamluk textiles and one Mamluk carpet in the Washington Textile Museum collection, which also bear Mamluk blazons. With the reading of the inscription, this paper will bring to light the Kaaba door curtain in the Bursa Grand Mosque, and consider the background of Mamluk-Ottoman political relations. We will discuss the blazon of the Dawadar and how its holders' importance and enormous power are reflected in textiles. The paper will also trace the origin of the Dival embroideries.

The corrigenda (June 2015) adds one footnote and updates one footnote and bibliographical reference.