The first Shabbat I was in Yerushalayim (Parshat Shoftim) my father and I davened at the Italian Synagogue. While the nusach there follows the older Roman nusach, the Sifrei Torah are caparisoned in vestments which follow the Spanish-Portuguese custom, as seen here.
This lead me to a few questions:
Behind the klaf was a cloth which went the length of the sefer from Bereishit to the end (or so I assume, seeing as it wrapped around the wound parchment and disappeared behind it). What is the purpose of this cloth?
Where is the form of Torah vestments mentioned in Sephardi Halacha and why are the ones like these only used in a few kehillot?
I have seen paintings by German Jewish artists such as Oppenheim showing similar vestments for Ashkenazi sefarim. Why do Eastern Ashkenazim and Eastern Sephardim not use them (eg. using a mantel or tik instead)?