Bisht (clothing)

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King Faisal of Saudi Arabia meeting with President Richard Nixon of the United States in 1974, while wearing a black bisht with gold stripes.

A bisht (Arabic: بِشْت‎) or mishla (Arabic: مِشْلَح‎) or ʿabāʾ (Arabic: عَبَاء‎) is a traditional men’s cloak popular in the Arab world.[1] It is a flowing outer cloak worn over a thawb.

A symbol of Arab identity[edit]

A bisht is usually worn for prestige on special occasions such as weddings, or festivals such as Eid, or for Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah or Salat al-Janazah. It is usually worn by secular officials or clergy.[2] In Iraq it is worn by tribal chiefs. The bisht is also worn by East African nobility, including tribal chiefs, kings, and imams, over a kanzu or tunic. It is a status garment, associated with royalty, religious position, wealth, and ceremonial occasions, like the black-tie tuxedo[3] in the West.[2][4][5]


It is usually black, brown, beige, cream or grey in colour.[2]


The triliteral root of Bisht is widely used in Semetic Languages, including Arabic, and a theory is that the word bisht is derived from Akkadian ‘bishtu’, meaning ‘nobility’ or ‘dignity’.[6] The alternate name of ʿabāʾ (Arabic: عَبَاء‎) is from the Arabic triliteral root ʿAyn-Bāʾ-Wāw, which relates to 'filling out'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ *"Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Al-Mukhtar, Rima (7 November 2012). "Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". Arab News.
  3. ^ "Kate dusts off her Alexander McQueen tuxedo for stunning appearance". Evening Standard. 2020-10-13. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  4. ^ "Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". Arab News. 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  5. ^ "A symbol of Arab identity". Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  6. ^ Dr. Ali Fahmi khashim, Akkadian Arabic Dictionary Page 140

External links[edit]