This is a photo of a thimbled finger embroidering a Kiswa--the beautiful, gold-embellished, black-silk cover for the Ka'aba in Mecca. The Ka'aba is covered with a new Kiswa every year on the 9th Dhu al-Hijja, the ninth day of the last month of the Islamic year, on the eve of the annual Hajj--pilgrimmage--to Mecca. The old Kiswa is then cut up and presented to various esteemed Muslim individuals and organizations.
The Kiswa comprises 47 pieces of the finest silk cloth, totaling 28,524 square feet (about 1477 pounds), embroidered with nearly 33 pounds of gold-plated silver wire. The Kiswa is wrapped around the Ka'aba and fastened to the ground with copper rings. The current cost of making the Kiswa is roughly US$4-6 million.