Bisht (clothing)

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

A bisht (Arabic: بشت‎, from Akkadian: bishtu بِشتُ) or mishlah (Arabic: مشلح‎) is a traditional men’s cloak popular in Arabia and some Arab countries.[1] It is essentially a flowing outer cloak made of wool, worn over the thobe. Unlike the thobe, it is usually black, brown, beige, cream or grey in colour. As winters are warm in this region, the bisht is usually only worn for prestige on special occasions such as weddings, or festivals such as Eid, or for Friday prayer. 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.


Some suggest that word Bisht is driven from Persian (پشت) which means back as the bisht worn from back, but this is an Inaccurate suggestion since there is no evidence of using bisht or similar clothing by Persians themselves and this word couldn't have come from Persia, as the bisht is a unique clothing of the semitic people and It was widely used in semitic civilization by kings, nobels, chiefs or the elders in ancient times, wearing bisht was and still is a sign of being in higher level of social status and It's reasonable that bisht should carry a meaning of nobility, dignity or a sense of authority, from here we conclude that the most reasonable theory is that the word bisht is driven from Akkadian semitic language ( bishtu بِشتُ) which means the nobelity /dignity.[2]

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  1. ^
  2. ^ Dr. Ali Fahmi khashim, Akkadian Arabic Dictionary Page 140

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