The Bisht industry an inherited craftsmanship
صناعة البشوت الحساوية.. حرفة تتوارثها الأجيال
29 JAN 2020
Source: Nadeen Al-Wazani
The Bisht industry has flourished in Al-Ahsa, which was the first region to export this iconic Arabian cloak to other regions of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf since the ancient times. Customers are particularly keen to buy the Al-Hasawi Bisht because of the quality of its handcrafted craftsmanship that distinguishes it from other types of Bisht cloaks.
The Al-Hasawi families usually inherit the secrets of sewing Bisht garments from a young age. The industry itself has greatly evolved to the point that huge exhibitions are held to promote this product – testament to the garment’s originality and heritage.
The Bisht is the Persian name for the piece of Arabian clothing that is worn above the thobe and made from wool. It covers the body from shoulders to feet and is open from neck to bottom; the two open sleeves are narrow and the hems are embroidered with golden silk threads. It is also considered a symbol of dignity and grandeur worn by statesmen and dignitaries. However, the Bisht has evolved in recent years to incorporate modern decorative designs and different colors depending on the seasons of the year, including white, off-white, brown, gray and black. There are 14 different designs, the most prominent include Malaki (royal), Motawase’, Morawba’ and Mokhawmas.
It is notable that Al-Hasawi Bisht is one of the finest kinds in the world, developing its fine reputation over the decades for its intricacy, fine patterns and luxury. It competes in terms of quality and price with only two other types: Najafi and Kashmiri. The prices of excellent quality Bisht range from SR3,000 to SR6,000 according to the type of fabric and price of gold. The more intricate and distinctive the decorations are, the higher the price of the Bisht.
Although there are manufactured ones, handmade Bisht cloaks are more desirable because they are embroidered with more aesthetics and higher quality. Handmade knitting requires craftsmanship and ultimate precision, as it takes 10 to 15 days to complete one Bisht. The demand for Bisht cloaks increases during the holiday seasons or wedding occasions, as every groom is keen to buy his own special garment. Since sewing Bisht is one of the local trades prevalent in Al-Ahsa, the profession has also contributed to tourism in the region due to the potential of the garment as a world-class artisan gift.