Miniature framed works adorn corporate walls

By Lakshmi Kothaneth — MUSCAT: Dec 19: Miniatures of traditional Omani dresses framed have become a rage as corporate gifts. Corporate houses find them ideal gifts representing the nation’s traditions and culture. The creativity of Asma al Harthi has slowly and steadily made it to the corporate world under the name Shabab Al Asalah, but in her own way she is promoting the traditional costumes of different regions of Oman among the youth.
It is a craft she learnt from her aunt in Ibra when she was just nine years old. “My father was working in Muscat, so this is where I went to school. But I would wait for vacations and force my father to take me to Ibra because that is where we are from. My aunt taught me how to make the ‘seam’ and other hand embroideries on the dresses. Women used to make their own clothes and while at it they would sing as well,” said Asma as she demonstrated how the seam is made.
In the background was a drumming sound created by the thread rolls knocking on each other because about five rolls are used simultaneously. The ‘seam’ is used around the neck.
While tailoring was a hobby she carried on as a business for the last 30 years even while she continued with her career, it was the retirement that brought in the concept of miniatures.
873639Costumes for men and women with minute details are complete with accessories in the frame such as the sandals, khanjar and the camel stick. Another popular item is the miniature ‘Kuma’, the Omani cap. Everything is handmade from the smallest of embroideries to pipings. She is also looking out for traditional embroideries that were used earlier.
Her personal favourites are dresses from Biddiya and Sur. “It could be the colours and the details,” explained Asma.
Asked about the past, she says, “The women used to make their own clothes.  They used to weave textiles as well and sell them in other regions. While there are new designs and readymade embroidery available in the souqs, we should not lose the traditional art.”
There is a history of textiles that depict the lifestyle of the Sultanate. “It would be nice to see a full revival of the traditional attires. Modern designs are good but there is uniqueness in the traditional dresses of Oman,” added Asma.
“I find making things using my hands very healing. Most satisfying is when I see young women come to me to have a traditional dress made for them.”