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Rua Conde Dom Henrique

4800-412 Guimarães


Prayer Rug
Author: Unknown
Origin: Unknown
Dating: 17th century
Material: Wool & Cotton (?)
Dimensions (cm): 182 x 136,3
Inv. no.: PD0485

A knotted prayer rug with a niche of a green olive background, decorated with small floral stylized motifs. A lantern is suspended from the top of the niche.

During the Islamic prayers, Muslims must bend over, kneel down and prostrate themselves on the floor, on little embroidered rugs called ‘prayer rugs’, as a sign of humility towards Allah.

Using a Prayer rug is not mandatory. The only demand in Islam is that the prayers should take place in a clean area; therefore the rugs became the traditional way for the Muslims to ensure the cleanliness of their praying site and to create an isolated space so that they can focus.

The prayer should be preceded by a purification ritual that consists of washing the hands, the nostrils, the face, the head, the ears, the feet and the arms up to the elbow with water and in a certain ritual.

The Muslims must make five public prayers each day (Holy Koran verses). They should be spoken in Arabic (even if the believer does not speak the language) and at specific times of the day which do not correspond to the hours of a day, but to the different stages of the Sun’s course (at dawn, at noon, between noon and sunset, right after the sunset and at night) in a cycle of positions: standing, bent over, kneeling down, prostrated and sitting down.

After the prayer, the rug is immediately folded or rolled-up and stored until the next prayer. Doing this makes sure that the rug always stays clean.