Travel Oman: Tracing the heritage of pottery

Oman Monday 02/September/2019 19:54 PM
By: Times News Service

An inherent element of ancient civilisations across the world, pots have played a key role in the growth of trade, commerce and society since times immemorial.
Some of the earliest pots in the world were made in the Nile delta in the time of the Pharaohs and were little more than clay shaped by hands to form simple jars and containers for people to preserve and store food and water for a few more days. As civilisations advanced, potters began using better and better materials to shape their pots...limestone and straw were among the first additions to be made to this simple clay mixture.
In Oman, Bahla is often known as the centre of the pottery industry in the country. Although pots tend to look simple and unassuming, the craft an artisan applies to a potter’s wheel is in reality quite difficult and can take years to master.
The humble pot has many uses in the daily lives of the Omanis, from rather simple functions like storing grain and water, to preservation techniques that do require knowledge, skill and technique.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, “Pottery is found in 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 water and dates, the small ones are for honey and grease and the pots known as brams are used as cooking utensils. Pots are also made to serve 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.”
“The kind of raw material used for pottery has great influence over the instincts of the craftsman as his production reflects the human nature that expresses how he is linked to the community he lives in and embodies his experience in life in general,” says the Public Authority for Craft Industries (PACI).
“Pottery products are characterised by diverse, charming decorations that evidence the capability of the Omani artist to excel in creative work and to tame clay to express his culture,” added PACI. “He uses different techniques in decorating his pottery products. For example, he might notch the surface while it is wet and fill such notches with colours, drawing pictures of plants and geometrical shapes, as well as decorations derived from Islamic heritage.”