• Ka’aba Key

    Ka’aba Key


A key for the Ka’aba

Arabian Peninsula, 1340s

As the holiest site in the Islamic world, Mecca has long had political as well as religious significance. The city, with the Ka’aba at its centre, carries enormous symbolic value for its secular rulers.

Keys such as this one, which 'unlock' the Ka'aba both physically and metaphorically, were often commissioned by whichever ruler held the city.

This key was made in the 1340s AD, during the period of Mamluk control. As it was not made in the 'royal' style of other Mamluk objects of this time, it may well have been made in a workshop in Mecca. Almost all known surviving Ka'aba keys are in the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, where they were placed by successive Ottoman rulers.

A key for the Ka'aba