Oman has the prestigious one million date palm project at present. The date palm tree has always played a prominent role in society because it was part of agriculture — one of the traditional occupations of the land. Most importantly it is known for its nutritional value besides being one of the major commodities of trade for centuries.
The date palm was also identified as an aesthetic motif to be seen not only on pieces of jewellery but also on home utensils. Archaeologists discovered ancient articles — bearing the images of palm fronds and just when we thought we knew everything, there’s actually more.
The National Museum of Oman gives us a sneak preview to those early days. According to the museum, the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera), an enduring symbol of Oman, is identified with the early oasis civilization of Magan in the 3rd millennium BCE and the taming of the desert.
“It is one of the few tree species specifically mentioned in the Holy Quran, and according to Islamic tradition, Mary (Maryam) gave birth to Jesus in the shade of a palm:
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:
‘And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!” Then (the infant ‘Iesa (Jesus)) cried unto her from below her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you; And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you.”
—-Mary Chapter (Surat Maryam) (19-23-25).
The museum goes on to add that highly simplified palm motifs appear as design elements on such diverse items as wooden doors, coffee pots, forefinger rings and copper spoons. As a repetitive motif, the palm is often combined with geometric or floral elements to create circular or linear patterns.