Bisht (clothing)

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 mishlaḥ (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. It is usually black, brown, beige, cream or grey in colour. It is usually worn by secular officials or clergy. It is a status garment, associated with royalty, religious position, wealth, and ceremonial occasions.[2] A bisht is usually worn for prestige on special occasions such as weddings, or festivals such as Eid, or for Jumʿah prayers or funerals. 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.


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’.[3] The alternate name of ʿabāʾ (Arabic: عَبَاء‎) is from the Arabic triliteral root ʿAyn-Bāʾ-Wāw, which relates to 'filling out'.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ *"Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ Al-Mukhtar, Rima (7 November 2012). "Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". Arab News.
  3. ^ Dr. Ali Fahmi khashim, Akkadian Arabic Dictionary Page 140

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