CAIRO. — Procession of the Holy Carpet.
Publisher: Levy & Neurdein Reunis (1920-1932). image might be earlier.
At the beginning of the century, there were several types of popular ceremonies in Egypt that have disappeared or faded with time. One such ceremony is the procession of “El Mahmal” or “The Holy Carpet.” The yearly celebration involved the Egyptian government manufacturing a new cover for the Holy Kaaba and offering it to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After the cover is prepared in the factory, a large ceremony takes place in Cairo, where a parade organised by the Egyptian army tours the different districts of the city.
The parade included a caravan of decorated camels carrying the Holy Carpet, as well as many other gifts. After the caravan ends its tour in Cairo, it starts its long trip, guarded by the Egyptian army, across the eastern desert, then on to the Suez Canal and Sinai till it reaches Palestine. From Palestine, it goes directly to Saudi Arabia, crossing its northern borders to the heart of Hijaz, then to Mecca. Normally it reached Mecca before the pilgrimage season, where another ceremony takes place that ends with the covering of the Kaaba with the Holy Carpet.
ahramonline: Egypt 100 years ago: The Ceremony of the Holy Carpet (Mahmal)
Capture of the Holy Carpet
London, Friday.–The “Holy Carpet,” which is annually despatched from Cairo with the pilgrims’ caravan to the Prophet’s tomb at Mecca, has been capture in the Arabian Desert by Bedouins. Six of the guard were killed. The Bedouins demand £600 as ransom for the carpet
Newcastle Morning Herald, 19 June 1899
PILGRIMAGE OF THE HOLY CARPET.
The theft of the Holy Carpet during the Pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the most sensational things that could have happened to those faithful to the Koran, who will regard it as an unexampled calamity. The yearly departure from Cairo to the famous, mosque, where with other coverings it adorns for a time the sacred enclosure, has always been the most imposing sight witnessed in the Egyptian capital. The camel bears a carpet trapped with gold, embroidered with crimson, and bears upon, its back a canopy cantaining it, the latter being of crimson and gold, with gilded ornaments at each corner of its base, and its pyramidal roof. Behind the animal comes another camel, carrying the chief Egyptian standard. This is followed by others, the last ridden by a man bearing the flag which sets forth a line from the Koran. The holy carpet itself is a number of pieces of silk embroidery, periodically manufactured in , Cairo by Jews, so that the loss in. this present instance is not serious from a mere point of commercial value. The yearly departure for Mecca, called the ceremony of the Kisweh, is characterised by the greatest Oriental splendour. The carpet is borne through the streets of Cairo, then taken by rail to Suez, thence to Jeddah and Mecca. It is generally blessed by the Khedive in person, and the sacred camels are always escorted by picked household troops,, who keep back the crowd of donkey boys, street vendors of sherbet, closely veiled women, merchants, beggars, and cripples. Among the crowd English people are allowed to mix with impunity, but after the departure of the carpet it is expected that they shall disperse, To follow it on the pilgrimage is considered an affront, and any European sufficiently venturesome to press forward at subsequent stopping places to catch a glimpse of the article does so at the risk of his life.
Clarence & Richmond Examiner, 27 June 1899
RANSOMING THE “HOLY CARPET.”
The capture by a tribe of marauding Bedouins of the “Holy Carpet,” somewhere between Medina and Mecca, has not unnaturally roused the pious indignation of the whole of the Moslem world. In the fierce conflict that ensued, four Turkish soldiers and three natives of the convoy were killed, the remainder escaping to Mecca. The “Holy Carpet” or Kiswa, consists of a series of-oblong strips of black brocade richly embroidered-in gold and silver with Arabic inscriptions from the Koran. It serves the purpose of beautifying the exterior of the Ka’aba the sacred shrine within the precincts of the Mosque at Mecca. It is renewed and sent every year at the expense of the Sultan from Constantinople via Cairo, where with its escort of Bashi Bazouks, it forms part of the great Egyptian caravan. the most important of tie. many which annually converge towards Mecca. Having done duty for a year, it is cut up in pieces and sold as relics to wealthy pilgrims . Our sketch shows the carpet as it is carried under a canopy. on the back of a camel through the streets of Cairo, during the festival preceding its departure, with two symbolical trophies that each year accompany the pilgrimage from Egypt. These are the Mahamal, a kind of canopy, and a pyramidal construction containing a copy of the Koran. Both are exquisitely embroidered in gold upon green cloth, and are held in superstitious reverence by the multitude. The proceedings are quaintly interesting. The women give their shrill, quaint cry of “Hooloo, hoo loo, hoo-loo” as the carpet passes.
Kalgoorlie Western Argue