This post is brought to you entirely thanks to a friend of mine. It would be completely impossible otherwise, since Google Translate is really terrible at Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic, or know much about Saudi Arabia, but my Expert Consultant does! I found these websites through Google Image Search for تطريز البشت (my friend’s suggestion), which means embroidered bisht, and my friend then translated for me.
The bisht (بشت) is a traditional cloak worn by Saudi Arabian men on special occasions. Bisht is derived from the Persian word for “back” since it goes on your back. It’s generally made of wool, and is usually black, brown, beige, cream or grey. The focus is meant to be on the fancy embroidered edging. Since it’s men’s clothing, it’s traditionally created by men.
These two photos of the process of embroidering a bisht are from an article about someone who worked on research about the bisht. The researcher discovered that working in groups like the photo below resulted in higher quality embroidery.
There are three main types of embroidery for a bisht: gold zari, silver zari, and silk. The gold and silver threads are called Zari, derived from a Persian word (source website). The silk type is less common.