Oman is among the leading countries that support craft industries. The government has attached great importance to this industry because it reflects a social culture and one of the most important legacies inspired by the Omani environment.
Al Jarz is a small axe head installed on a long stick (usually made of jujube wood or wood from the Al Majz tree, species of trees that grow in Musandam). Al Jarz is a unique tool used by men in Musandam Governorate. In the past, the various traditional uses for the Al Jarz have been for chopping tree wood, a tool for climbing trees, a walking stick, a means of support for jumping over stones, and as a weapon.
Daggers and Swords
A normal or hooked dagger is the most important component of the Omani dress. Omanis are keen to acquire daggers and appear wearing them at official events, national celebrations and weddings. Due to the succession of this social custom from one generation to another, the dagger-making industry has survived the passage of time, albeit with modern improvements.
The Omani dagger is an authentic heritage the present generation is keen to pass on to their children. The dagger is also a symbol of manhood and pride among Omani men, who wear it on their leather belts over the dishdashah (long outer garment). Its front section is made of small connected silver pieces, or it may be elegantly embroidered with silver or gold threads.
A dagger’s price is determined by the raw material it is made of, usually iron, silver or gold. Although silver daggers are the most common, especially for making the dagger handle, the blade case too determines a dagger’s price. There is the giraffe case, which is the most expensive because it has been banned, and cases made of buffalo skin, sandalwood, and the bitter orange tree.
Incense refers to aromatic substances or mixtures burned on hot coals to transform them to fragrant fumes. Incense and coal are usually put in a traditional clay receptacle called a censer or brazier, whose designs differ according to the region they are made in. Censers or braziers are usually ornamented with bright engravings and colours.
The Leather Industry
Since ancient times, Omanis have made use of cattle skins to manufacture various products, such as water urns and pitchers, and a variety of other pieces. The Wilayt of Mirbat, Nizwa and AlMudaybi are the most renowned for manufacturing leather products.
Omanis have known the textile industry from ancient times. This has been called the industry of Sidu (weaving) by the Bedouins, who have woven sheep’s and goat’s wool. Fabrics woven from animal wool and hair were also used for Bedouin tents. Bedouin women were famous for making socks from sheep’s wool and spinning camel adornments on their spindles.
Wilayt Samail is famous for its textile industry.
The Omani Dress
Men’s clothes are known for their simplicity and adaptation to their surrounding environment. Their dress is a long robe, locally called “dishdashah”, with a round neckline surrounded by a thin ribbon that differs slightly in colour from the dishdasha. In contrast, women’s clothes are adorned with bright colours and magnificent artistic embroideries that differ from one region to another, forming a diverse collection of great beauty.
The Omani Halwa Industry
Omani halwa enjoys an extensive reputation in the country and abroad and is considered an symbol of generosity and excellence. Omani halwa accompanies Omanis in times of joy and sorrow; hence not a single Omani house is ever without it. This is especially true during celebrations, feasts, ceremonies and religious festivities.
Omani halwa is considered an indispensable and basic component of hospitality. Its taste differs from one region to another. Omani halwa preserves its quality for four months without the use of preservatives.
Halwa is usually offered on a round tray kept especially for it, called Al Dist, which differs in type and size: some are made of clay, some of metal, and some of plastic, depending on the occasion.
Palm leave products
The Palm leave products depends on palm trees. There are Al Khaws (palm leaves), the Zawr (palm branches stripped of their leaves), the palm trunk and the fibre. For example, mats(rugs) are made of the two plants called Al Ghadf and Al Rusul which grow on the valley banks where there is an abundance of water.
Governorate of Musandamis renowned for its palm leaf industries, such as utensils (Al Surood and Al Makba) which are made from palm leaves. Al Surood is a mat-shaped tray known as Sama, used with food to protect it from insects, while Al Makba fulfils the same purpose.
The art of pottery-making is an inherent and distinct testimony to the world’s civilisations as it reflects the extent of their development and advancement. Though pottery-making is one of the simplest forms of art because of its primitive nature, it is in fact, one of the most difficult trades because it involves a form of art.
Pottery-making in Oman is considered an ancient industry. The reason it has attracted much interest can be attributed to the multitude of its uses in Omanis’ daily lives. Bahla in A’Dhahirah Governorate is the most famous town for pottery-making in Oman.
Pottery is of many kinds and shapes, and its uses and manufacturing materials vary. The pots known as jihal are used for keeping water, the red pots with a thick layer known as khuroos are used for keeping water and dates, the small ones are for keeping honey and grease and the pots known as brams are used as cooking utensils. Pottery is also made as coffee pots and thermoses. Clay is the main component of Pottery and is widely available in Bahla in A’Dhahirah Governorate, where the soil is rich in clay.
Distillation of Rose Water
Roses are planted on a large scale in Al Jabal Al Akhdar (the Green Mountain). Farmers then collect and process them. Yet, this craft is not without its hardships; however, the hardship and fatigue soon melt away when the farmer reaps the harvest of his efforts: the distilled rose water.
When flowers bloom in April, farmers cut and transport them to their simple distillation plants. You will see rose water distillation plants during your trip to Al Jabal Al Akhdar (the Green Mountain) .
The Ship Building Industry
The Omani ship building industry occupies a very important place among the traditional Omani industries, as Omanis have excelled in this industry. Ships have played a major role in the Omanis’ ability to sail to the eastern and western hemispheres and stay in touch with the civilisations of the ancient world.
Omani ships are characterised by their various types and shapes. Sur was one of the most famous cities overlooking the Indian Ocean to manufacture ships. Visitors to Sur can roam and experience first hand the different stages of ship and boat building, and examine the materials used in manufacturing them. Tourists can also acquire small models of the ships that were built in Sur in ancient times. The most famous type of ship in Sur Province is the Al Ghanja, which takes one whole year to build.
In order to memorialise this type of ship, Sur natives have placed a model of an Al Ghanja ship (the benevolent conquest) in front of the Sur Maritime Museum as a monument for this ancient Wilayt. Other types of Omani ship include As Sunbouq and Al Badan. Omani ships are generally characterised by their durability and strength.
The silver industry occupies a key place in the history of Oman. Omani silver jewellery is characterised by a rich sense of the aesthetic and reflects the unique taste of the country’s authentic art, deeply rooted in its history. Silver in Omani society is reflective of its rich social and religious symbols. The Omani dress, whether that of women or men, is never complete without silver jewellery that adds to its beauty, especially apparent in the Omani khanjar (dagger).
Omanis have utilised the abundance and variety of trees in the Sultanate to make a number of objects such as doors, windows, and chests (locally called manadees, used to store various items).
The fruit are gathered from the beginning of April of each year when temperatures start to rise. Heat helps bring out the liquid from the frankincense. This process requires an expert making incisions in the trees with a sharp instrument known as the Al Manqaf, and needs to be cut twice at two separate locations, with a time difference of about 14 days between the first and second cut. The fluid comes out first in the form of milk, which is not fit for use. The second stroke cuts the tree along the trunk and liquid collection starts two weeks after the second strike. The tree is struck for a third time to allow the high quality brown fluid to come out. This liquid is left either on the tree or on the ground. The first stroke is called “the signature“, the second and third are called “the palm“. This profession needs extensive experience and most of those who work in the trade have inherited it from their fathers and forefathers. An error may result in a laceration in the tree, which causes it to stop production and may in some cases result in its atrophy. The harvest season may extend to October, and the production of a single tree is about ten kilograms on average. Dhofar’s production of this crop is estimated to be seven thousand tons annually, and it is frequently found in Souq Al Hafah in Salalah in Dhofar Governorate.