Get a peek into the past

Muscat, Jan 29 – Visitors to the Heritage Village at Al Amerat Park, one of the venues of Muscat Festival, had a peek into the life in Oman in the past.
They learned how live stock was used before oil and gas or electricity was discovered. An elevated stage at the traditional village showed a farmer using an ox to plough the land or draw water from a well — fed by a natural spring. A few metres away was a traditional sugarcane crusher, made of wood. Each time an ox goes around it, the sugarcane gets crushed between two tree trunks and the juice is collected in a tank at the bottom.
The demonstration, an eye-opener, especially for children, tells us how sugarcane was an important crop.
Hamed bin Saleh al Humaimi and Salem bin Hamed al Shuqaili are from Bahla. Hamed specialises in making products out of date palm frond and trunk.
Visitors saw how Salem transformed the trunk of a date palm tree into a container for carrying fodder for livestock — an example of how the ecosystem functioned in the past. Life revolved around agriculture.
Palm baskets for storing date palm are still used in rural areas, while date palm leaves are used for making mats known as Azaf, and the traditional broom, Mkhamah. An exceptional piece of art is Na’al, sandals made from date palm leaves.
Azaf and Mkhamah are still in use. Na’al may not be in used today, but could find its place in the modern-day spas. It can also be a collector’s item.
As we stood there, a family came to see Hamad’s handicrafts and said though they have been in Oman for 10 years and visited the Muttrah Souq many times, this was the first time they were seeing Oman’s craftsmen at work.
“It is amazing to see their work, be it is carpentry, sculpting or weaving,” said Pooja.
Before the couple left, Pooja’s mother-in-law had already chosen the Azaf. Asked how they would use it, she replied, “A special corner in the house.”

Lakshmi Kothaneth