Ancient robe endows respectability, dignity to wearer
Kuwait Textile Arts Association Celebrates Tradition of Bisht
Kuwait Textile Arts Association (KTAA) celebrated the tradition of bisht in their monthly meeting in February, just a few days before the National Day and Liberation Day commemorations in Kuwait. The event took place in Sadu House, the graceful old heritage building on Gulf Road, the home of ‘sadu’ and an apt backdrop to the heritage craft of bisht-making. On Feb 19, at 6:30 pm. Linda Fouke, President of KTAA and members of her committee welcomed a full house to an event packed with information, history, anecdotes, demonstrations and to top it all gifts as books written by the presenter himself.Heritage :
The speaker for the evening was Reyadh Al Baghli, an old associate of KTAA who spoke of ‘The Bisht: The Traditional Men’s Cloak of the Gulf’. Al Baghli belongs to a family that has kept alive the heritage craft of bisht making in Kuwait against odds that include decreasing number of skilled craftsmen and resources and an increasing westernization of culture.
According to the KTAA, the Al Baghlis can trace their roots to a famous oasis in Saudi Arabia called Al Ahsa, which incidentally has been home to the best bisht tailors for over 200 years. The story of urbanization is Kuwait is closely linked to migration and like many others the Al Baghlis migrated to Kuwait in the 18th century carrying with them the tricks of their trade and set up home and business in Kuwait.
“As a family, we have been into bisht-making for the last 150 years,” recalled Reyad Al Baghli. “At first we setup shop in the merchant’s market and then shifted to what is known as the bisht market in 1939.” The Al Baghli family established a factory for making bishts which is considered the oldest factory in Kuwait.
Increasing modernization led to a decline in the number of skilled weavers, but Al Baghli’s grandfather was determined to keep the craft alive. And years later his son and grandson continue the tradition successfully.