#OmanPride: See master craftsmen at work at Muscat Festival
January 30, 2017 | 9:35 PM
by Staff Reporter

Muscat: Traditional Omani handicrafts dominate the Cultural Village in Amerat Park, a venue of the Muscat Festival, underlining the efforts being made to preserve the Sultanate’s culture.

Many different kinds of wares, from daggers, traditional swords and rifles to handmade tapestry, wicker baskets and model dhows, are being showcased at the Cultural Village.

Veterans of the trade can be seen creating their masterpieces on the spot as visitors watch their creativity.

The creators also educate the people about the traditional methods of making Omani crafts.

Listening to the sound of a hammer smashing against an anvil, some visitors were attracted to a particular stall where a blacksmith, Rashid Al Batashi, was making gardening tools, meant to tend to the palm trees.

Al Battashi, who has over 30 years of experience, said, “I learned this trade at a young age and continue to practice it until this day. Blacksmithing needs patience and experience in dealing with steel and fire, especially when forging and shaping the product.”

He said he wants to teach people the skill of blacksmithing and pass on the trade to newer generations to preserve Oman’s culture and traditions.

“Blacksmithing, as well as other traditional handicrafts, will remain despite the advances in technology as a lot of my customers prefer locally made products,” said Al Battashi.

A craftsman well versed in weaving palm tree leaves into baskets, hand fans and many other creations, with an experience of 60 years, Al Mur Al Kharusi said the palm tree is part of the Omani tradition and is connected to the Omani people.

“The palm tree is part of our life. We eat from it and we use its leaves to create appliances and everyday items for our use. I’ve passed on this skill to my children and now they are professionals,” said Al Kharusi.

He added that visitors have shown great interest in his work and he has been participating in the festival for years.

In another part of the Cultural Village, visitors were attracted to a visually impaired youth, Walid Al Hashmi, who was practicing carpentry on outer, wooden casings of pens.

On his workbench, he had it written on a piece of paper: “Even though I’m blind, I create pens to draw your stories.”

“Though I lost my vision at a young age, God gave me my talent to compensate for it and I’m thankful for that,” said Al Kharusi.

It is recommended that visitors head to the Cultural Village to learn about traditional Omani handicrafts and products. Also, they can watch these handicrafts being created by master craftsmen.

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