The number of internet searches for the word “bisht” rocketed after Argentina football star Lionel Messi wore one of the garments as he lifted the Fifa World Cup trophy in Qatar on Sunday.
Online searches for bishts and what they are surged along with interest in the black robe draped over the shoulders of arguably one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Google trends showed searches for bisht, a traditional gown worn by men for weddings, graduations and official events, were relatively few before the final, and on December 19 reached peak popularity twice as football fans went online to find out more.
The country responsible for the most searches was Qatar, where the tournament was hosted. After that, came Haiti, Ghana, Bahrain and the UAE, respectively, followed by Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sweden, Kuwait and Argentina.
As Messi made his way to collect the trophy, he was greeted by Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Tamim, Emir of Qatar. Wearing his gold medal, Messi stood proudly as a bisht, a ceremonial robe, was wrapped around him.
The image broadcast around the world prompted strong reaction at both ends of the scale, from those who understood the mark of respect that it embodied and from those confused as to why Argentina's national team jersey was being covered.
The robe Messi wore was a $2,200 bisht. The gold thread came from Germany and the Najafi cotton fabric was imported from Japan.
After the broadcast, sales of bishts have reportedly increased dramatically.