The second of the three "Birthplaces" prints I'll be working on is Mecca. The main reason I'm doing Mecca before I tackle Lumbini (Buddha's birthplace) is because Mohammed's birthday is traditionally celebrated on March 20, and I'd like the print to be finished by around that date. Given that the Bethlehem print took a little over two months, that timing seems about right. I know so little about Islam or Mohammed, or even about Saudi Arabia, so I hope that working on this print will teach me more.
Mecca is sacred to Islam as the birthplace of Mohammed, who was born in around 570 CE. Mecca is sacred for other reasons also. One of the five pillars of Islam requires that all able-bodied Muslims should make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime to participate in the Hajj, which takes place during the 12th lunar month of the Islamic calendar and focuses on rituals around a cube-shaped stone shrine called the Kaaba. The Kaaba, the most sacred shrine of Islam, is said to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. All prayers by Muslims, wherever they are in the world, are performed facing toward the Kaaba, and thus facing Mecca. Judging from these facts, I'd venture to say that Mecca is the heart of Islam.
In my early research, looking at satellite views of Mecca, I was immediately struck by a large white spot near the center of the city. Here are some successively closer views:
That structure is the Grand Mosque at Mecca and, as you can see from the last view, there is a square structure in the center of the mosque, which I assume is the Kaaba. In this enlargement, from Google Maps, you can even see what appear to be people surrounding the Kaaba (the gray dots):
Last month I found some photos on the MSNBC web site that give a ground-level view of what this building looks like during the Hajj:
So I've decided that the Grand Mosque of Mecca will be the focal point of this print. I will be doing this print by the reduction method, as I did the Bethlehem print, so here is the first reduction. The Holy Mosque will be white, the heart of the city and the heart of the print.