Weddings are a great venue to observe Omani culture and exquisite artisan work. Marriages are usually organized in gender separate congregations. The groom and all his male friends and relatives attend a mosque ceremony known as the Mulkah (or Melkah), after which the couple are considered married. The groom wears the traditional long white thobe or Khandura, with an ornate silver Khanjar (dagger) tucked in a sash around his waist.
After the prayer ceremony, everyone heads to a lavishly decorated marriage hall or hotel ballroom. This is where the Urs or wedding party takes place.
Similar to other traditions, the bride in Omani culture will have her hands and feet decorated with henna designs. Her attire includes a heavily embellished tunic top and pants, woven throughout with gold threads. A beautiful scarf known as the Lahaf is draped over the head. Silver jewelry including neck pieces, bangle, earrings, anklets, etc. adorn her frame.
Today, brides reserve traditional wedding dresses for the engagement, but opt for Western themed white wedding gowns.
From carpet making, leather work, jewelry to pottery, Omani culture has a rich craft making tradition.
The art of pottery has evolved in Oman over the past 4,000 years. While there are many varieties of art, the three types of pottery found commonly in Omani culture are:
- Jihal: Used for storing water at room temperature, these pots have a pointed shape with a snout.
- Khuroos: Usually red in color, these pots are round and come with a flat base. They were used to store dates, syrup and honey.
- Brams: Fired inside kilns, these strong pots were mostly used during cooking.
One of the foremost families involved in the pottery trade are the Al Sariri family. Hailing from the town of Muslimat (close to Nizwa), the Al Sariri family have created pottery since generations. Their pottery is known for its distinctive white color and coarse rustic exterior.
It takes up to four weeks for:
- Gathering and Producing the clay
- Sculpting the mejmar
- Drying and Firing
* In Omani culture, Mejmar are traditional incense burners for frankincense candles.
Whether you are in a souq or a shopping mall, the fragrance of frankincense is never far away. A distinct feature of Omani culture, frankincense brought great prosperity to the country. Traders and ships would come from far and wide along old routes in search of this aromatic treasure.
Only in the Nejd is frankincense harvested from the ancient Boswellia Sacra. These trees can grow in inhospitable conditions, and are mentioned in the Bible, the Quran and the works of Greek historian Herodotus. This is where the famous Hojari frankincense resin, also known as “Tears of Heaven”, is obtained.
Frankincense is collected by cutting small incisions into the bark of the tree. The tree secretes a resin, which dries up and hardens. This method of harvesting is standard in Omani culture. An example of this product is this gorgeous soap I bought. It smells so heavenly when you’re having a shower. I exude a wonderful aroma for hours after!
In addition, I bought this frankincense aromatherapy candle from The Nejd as a beautiful reminder of Omani culture. Infused with special essential oils and natural ingredients, these aromatherapy candles burn long and bright. I love lighting mine in the evenings or when I am having a soak, so that I can get a sense of tranquility and peace after a hectic day.
Note: These candles may smoke slightly as they contain natural frankincense resin.