This red-ground textile is decorated with zigzag rows of calligraphic inscriptions including Qur’anic verses, the shahada or Muslim profession of faith, and, in the central wide band, repeated cartouches with the names of the Prophet Muhammad and Allah. Large silks like this were commissioned every year by the Ottoman Sultan, who sent them to the sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina for the decoration of the Ka’ba and the tombs of the Prophet and his Companions. The red ground and inscriptions on this example suggest that it was once part of a decoration for the interior of the Ka’ba or perhaps a cover for the grave of the Prophet, and its wear pattern evokes the division and sale of used coverings, which were considered secondary relics, and reused as clothing, wall hangings, Qur’an covers, and tomb covers by the Ottomans.

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