Dating: 17th century
Material: Wool & Cotton (?)
Dimensions (cm): 213 x 126
Inv. no.: PD0486
A knotted prayer rug showing a niche with red background, decorated with small-stylized floral 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.
The decorations are a type of memory aid: some include a comb and a pitcher to remind them to wash their hands and comb their hair before the prayer; others have the shape of hands sewn on the rug so that a recently-converted Muslim know where they should place the hands for the prayer.
The rugs are made in the villagers’ houses. The width of the rug is the same as the size of the loom. Since the houses are small, there is not enough room for big looms; therefore the rugs are small in width. In terms of length, the rug has to be big enough to comfortably fit an adult as he kneels down or prostrates himself.