Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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Lisu.. an iconic element of the Omani traditional dress


The Lisu (long scarf) has a rich cultural history in Omani society dating back hundreds of years, when women wore it as their shiny, elaborate head covering for all occasions. It served as a model for both aesthetic appeal and morality.

An exhibition titled “Lisu” featuring 47 colourful paintings that reflected Omani heritage was organised by a group of 26 Omani artists at Bait Al Zubair to highlight the historical significance of the scarf.

That smell of the mothers and grandmothers that we couldn’t break away from is what always makes the “Lisu” special. The aroma of love and compassion they were able to radiate to everyone in their vicinity. The fragrance of the Lisu is entirely distinct from the modern day, common scents. Old Omani women used to mix their own special scents. The same smell covered every inch of the exhibition, transporting all of the visitors back to simpler times.

The colours of Lisu, is another tale. Back in times, the Omani women depended on colours to reveal their beauty. The scarf, though it was decent covering the head of the woman, yet, it gave a powerful source of elegance and beauty. It is only in recent years that Omani women were covered in black. The past was always full of colours.


The exhibition was inaugurated by artist Maryam al Zadjali, member of the State Council, who expressed her admiration for the idea and the presentation of “Lisu”, saying: “I respect the level of thinking of these group of young artists. I love their focus on the old times with all the small details that they could cover in their paintings. Omani (Lisu) constitutes one of the components of Omani fashion, and the distinctive feature is that Lisu has been employed by female artists in an innovative way and in various artistic schools, which reflects the depth of art and creativity.”

“The idea emerged from the importance of the Omani heritage, to highlight the identity of (Lisu) as an identity for Omani women who have preserved, and still maintain, this heritage since ancient times.”, said Maryam.

“The idea was to preserve this heritage as a historical custom and an intellectual heritage that we inherited from our ancestors. The aim is to spread this identity to the world, and we, as artists, have to highlight this to the world in our own artistic way.” The artist, Asia al Hasani, participated with a painting entitled “The Departure.” The idea of the painting is the departure of “Lisu.” She pointed out that the Lisu represents an ancient Omani heritage costume moving through time with generations with its bright colours. Women used to wear the Lisu to go out, whether for shopping or visits or other occasions, and with the recent development, the lisu has become limited to wearing in homes or family occasions.

Zahra al Ghatrifi participated with her painting from Al Aqr village in Nizwa. The picture conveys the warmth, tenderness, love, and tolerance common among neighbours, where the houses were next to each other and people exchanged food dishes.

The carpet includes some valuable pieces from Omani heritage to preserve it for future generations, because it will fade and disappear over time, just like old door and window decorations and clothing engravings.” The exhibition runs until the end of November 2022 at Bait Al Zubair.


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