For more than 4,000 years, the art of pottery making has been in Oman. Nowadays pottery items are mainly used as decorative pieces in restaurants, homes, and gardens or as a souvenir to bring back home from the souqs. However, in the past pottery items were a daily necessary tools and the art of vessel making was a complete industry in the Sultanate.
Bahla in A’Dhahirah Governorate has been of the main producers of pottery, and there are two main reasons behind it. Firstly the soil of the nearby wadi is rich in red clay that is used for making the clay utensil and secondly the pottery artists in Bahla have magical fingers which allow them to master the art and create the finest and strongest items.While these pieces of art are commonly available in souqs and local markets, the three that are always found in Omani households are the Jihal, the Khuroos, and the Brams.
Jihal: Jihal is the most traditional pottery items. It has a pointed shape with a beak and in olden times these were used to store water inside. The clay prevented the water from getting warm and kept it fresh at room temperature.
Khuroos: The red khuroos, round and with flat base, were used for dates storage. Their smaller version was used to store dates syrup or honey.
Brams: Thicker and stronger than Jihal and Khuroos, brams were mostly used for cooking. The pots were fired inside kilns, the thermally insulated chambers. The kilns were intially built as little domes but they evolved through the years into multi-level constructions of big capacity.
The art of pottery still survives in Oman in its most traditional ways but modernity has also reached the industry. Electrical and gas ovens have now been introduced to the pottery workshops.
However, they do not compete with the traditional ones but instead help in the process. Glazing and other techniques are easier to do first in the modern ovens.
Once the sought design and ideal temperature are found, the items are then fired inside the traditional kilns which can accommodate a larger production.