Saudi Arabian Bisht

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.

Embroidering a bisht by hand is a fading tradition. Most are created by machine embroidery now, but people are trying to preserve the art.

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11 Responses to Saudi Arabian Bisht

  1. Muito boa essa informação….Pouco sabemos sobre a cultura árabe, e esses bordados são muito bonitos…
    Cordiais saudações de MF

    • Hannah says:

      For my readers that don’t speak Portuguese, that roughly translates to “Very good that information …. We know little about Arab culture, and these are very beautiful embroidered … Sincerely MF.”

  2. We in India too use Zari threads for embroidery and we have Zardozi work with gold and silver threads. Strong influence of Persians and Arabs,I guess 🙂

  3. Sandy says:

    That’s a lovely braid-pattern on the finished border! I like the chairs they’re using in the group photo, too – both the built-in bin for supplies and the fact that a footstool is unnecessary for supporting the cloth!

    • Hannah says:

      Low chairs are actually very common in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know if the bin is really built in, or just placed between chairs. But they do look very convenient!

  4. Pingback: Men stitch bisht · Needlework News |

  5. Amna says:

    Hi it’s Amna from United Arab Emirates .. Just an addition to your article…Bisht بيشت is used by men all over the gulf including UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar. It is a must have for grooms in their wedding party to wear it. the way it’s worn if you notice in the picture you have posted is to put his Ghutra غتره “the whtie cover on the man’s head” benath the Bisht… if you want to have more ideas about crafts in the Arab Gulf State let me know i can send you some pictures and addresses 🙂

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