Pottery, a timeless art form, is a silent storyteller of human history and identity. Its roots trace back to ancient times, pre-dating even the Neolithic era. Archaeological finds like the 'Venus' statue in the Czech Republic (dating back to 2500-2900 BC) and pottery vessels discovered in China's Jiangxi region (dating back to 18,000 BC) bear witness to its enduring presence.
Today, it enjoys a resurgence as a popular hobby, attracting countless amateurs and academic institutions offering theoretical and scientific courses. Thanks to the power of social media, pottery artisans can now showcase and market their creations globally.
The pottery industry in the Sultanate of Oman dates back more than 5,000 years and is spread in various regions of the Sultanate. Pottery has many uses, such as storing dates and grains, cooling water, and preserving liquids and food. Nowadays, it is used frequently for decorative purposes.
The journey of crafting pottery involves several intricate stages. It commences with the careful selection of specific soils for pottery production. These soils, categorised into three types - green, red and white, are mixed with water using specialised machines designed for rapid and efficient blending. This mixture is then channelled through pipes into underground basins, where it dries.
Once the clay has dried and the dough is ready, it undergoes further process using dedicated machines. Modern technology has significantly expedited this drying process. After drying, the clay is collected, forming the foundation for the subsequent stages of production.
Modern machines contributed to the development of the industry and the speed of its completion while preserving the past.
In Oman, all pottery used for storing food and water is locally manufactured, showcasing various designs, including castles and forts. Training courses persistently nurture a new generation with artistic talents, safeguarding this ancient craft's continuity.
Tourists from diverse nationalities flock to these workshops daily, seeking to learn the art of pottery making. They witness firsthand the intricate process behind crafting pottery and gain insight into the daily production of these remarkable pieces.
Oman's pottery tradition is a testament to its rich history and identity, continuously shaping its cultural tapestry.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SALMANI