MATS AND GIFTS TO MECCA
Volume 5 Number
are, by and large, artifacts and practices from an early period.
They continued, however, in a modest way at the beginning of the
19th century. Wittman, in Constantinople, in a general discussion
of furnishings with reference to what he termed a "kiosk"
wrote: "The floor is covered with handsome mats fabricated
in Egypt, a considerable manufactory of which is carried on at Menoaf
in Lower Egypt."(1)
He travelled during the years 1799 -1801, and was also in Cairo,
where he observed an old custom:
procession which accompanied the camel destined to carry the cloth,
or carpet, with which the caaba, or house of God, at Mecca, was
to be covered, took place on the morning of the 29th [October,
1801]...The camel on whose back the sacred cloth was borne, had
plumes of feathers on the head, and over the body an embroidered
green cloth." (2)
Although there had been a three-year interruption in this practice
due to the French occupation of Egypt, the tradition of annual replenishment
of the Kaaba covering appears to have been impressively long-lived.
William, Travels in Turkey..., London, 1830, p. 30.