The Haram at Mecca with the Kaʻbah in the centre, from a manuscript of Futūḥ al-Ḥaramayn, a poetical description of the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina and the rites of pilgrimage by Muḥyī Lārī (d.1526 or 1527).

A guidebook for pilgrims

The Futūḥ al-ḥaramayn (‘Revelations of the two sanctuaries’) was written in the early 16th century by Muhyī al-Dīn Lārī as a guidebook to the pilgrimage (hajj) which all Muslims must complete once in their lifetime. It was dedicated to Muzaffar Shah II, Sultan of Gujarat (r. 1511–1526) and describes in Persian verse the holy sites in and around the cities of Mecca and Medina. Many copies were made with colourful illustrations, which are usually stylised and diagrammatic rather than strictly accurate representations. Several were copied in Mecca itself, suggesting that they could have been intended as souvenirs for pilgrims.

What do we see here?

This leaf depicts the Holy Sanctuary of Mecca. The black cube-shaped building at the centre is the Kaʻbah, which all Muslims turn to face when praying. The plan also includes the well of Zamzam, the miraculous source of water from God, which pilgrims drink while performing the Hajj. The manuscript, which has no colophon, is datable to the late 16th or early 17th century.