Early rock art shows women, men, children, and animals in their daily life. The early settlers to these areas also brought with them an array of other domestic arts, such as jewelry making, weaving, beadwork, and other textiles. There were other types of arts like woodcarving, leather work, metal work, and pottery that were utilized to create tools, utensils, and other items used in the home.
Architecture plays an important part of Omani culture, and many of the influences stem from their historical interactions with other cultures (especially the ones they overtook). By far, Arab and Islamic architecture dominates in Oman. Some of the common features you’ll see are thick walls, few windows, round towers, the use of vaulted arches, carved wooden ceilings, and highly decorated doors and doorways. Many homes and public areas make use of mosaic tiles as decoration and use geometric patterns. In many homes, they often put windows high up and shape them so that it funnels the wind to naturally cool the home. Some homes even built their house around a well, so that the well is now on the inside (you probably find that far more in the rural areas rather than in the cities).
|Royal Opera House, Muscat|
Oman has many museums dedicated to its history and cultural arts, many of which are located in Muscat. The Royal Opera House is an architectural feat of beauty and a famous stop for tourists and locals alike. An old French consulate has now been remodeled into a museum and garden. The National Museum is one of the more important collections of the history and culture of Oman. There’s even a museum of frankincense – yes the same from the story where one of the Wise Men brought frankincense as a gift for Baby Jesus. The frankincense tree grows natively in Oman along with myrrh. Both trees produce a resin that is tapped and used as an incense and perfume.
The earliest examples of literature from Oman date back to the 9th century. Most of the manuscripts we have today center around subjects such as religion, culture, and history. Geneologies were also fairly common during the time between the 11th and 19th centuries. Poetry has also been a style utilized from the early periods and is still popular today.
|Manuscript of the Quran from Oman|
Most Omani authors write in Arabic. Literature in Oman is somewhat hard to really come by translated into English. And from what I’ve gathered, there really aren’t too many brave souls in Oman who jump into writing. For one, writing is hard. (Oh, do I know this!) But that’s not really the reason. One of the main problems is that there is such a high censorship on anything that’s written, it makes it hard for writers to write freely. They can’t question anything regarding the government or draw attention to the state of being censored. I’ve read several articles about authors and bloggers who have been questioned and detained just for questioning the government and writing about their history in any light they deem unflattering.
That being said, there are a couple authors worth mentioning. One of the more well-known authors is Abdulaziz Al Farsi, whose novel Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs: An Omani Novel is available through Amazon (and in English!). Another successful author is Jokha Mohammed Al-Harthi. He was the recipient of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2011. Today, there are also many writers and journalists who write for various newspapers, magazines, and literary journals/magazines.
Up next: music and dance