Tuesday, November 28, 2023 | Jumada al-ula 13, 1445 H
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Oman doors and the story behind them



"The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are, and not be questioned,” said Maya Angelou, reaffirming that our safety and security lies at home, behind closed doors.

“Faith and fortitude may open doors, but destiny and history leave them open for us.” They are defined as “hinged, sliding, counterbalanced, or otherwise movable barriers, that allow ingress to, and egress from, an enclosure,” and Oman features some of the most attractive doors, and doorways, “ ingress and egress that would often, otherwise, feature a barrier.” In other words, a doorway without a door is a doorway, while a doorway with a door is a doorway. Confused? Don’t be, it’s just another of those anachronisms from history that certainly is conspicuously old fashioned, and as charming as the Arabian Nights.

According to an ancient Dutch proverb, “He who is before his door, has put the most difficult part of his journey behind him.” He will find that doors are usually pivoted, folding, or hinged, with hundreds of different forms of sophisticated pivots, or simple leather straps were effectively cut to make long lasting hinges. Doors though can be sliding, and even revolving, while who can ever forget the rolling stone doors of the ‘Indiana Jones Chronicles,’ they are so incredibly dramatic! Most will have a handle of some form, either a cut recess, a knob, a handle, or a lock and key to offer security to those inside, and a barrier to threats from outside.

It is said that “Old ways will not open new doors,” and while philosophically true, doors are still just doors. The earliest records are Egyptian, from ancient tombs, and a biblical reference too can be found from referring to the doors of King Solomon’s Temple doors, all those years ago,  though each artistic period, or civilization, has also left its mark on door styles from the Chinese, tall, wide and imposing;  The Greeks adored carved stone doors with motifs, while the Romans favored the much lighter beaten bronze. The 15th century Italians used all manner of materials, but began to imprint motifs, usually angelic, and even stories within their sanctuary barriers, and artistry continued to be a European fancy until the Renaissance period of the 16th century, when carved doors made a re-emergence.

Anyway, enough about the facts, history, and ‘stuff.’ The door, or doorway as I see it, is a doorway to somewhere else, and especially here in Oman, I look at a door and I see the story behind it. I see because I will not linger before the door, but through it. I look at a doorway, and I see possibilities, and I see the light through a doorway, and I see that for each new challenge, each new adventure. “Gazing wistfully at the closed door,” say the famous words, “he didn’t see the door that was open.” Well, that’s is surely not going to be me.

My wife and daughter are often ‘chivvying’ me along to keep up in the old towns and cities of Birkat Al Mouz or Harat Al Yemen, but I just cannot help it, my imagination goes wild, it ‘takes wings,’ and I almost feel that I am in those magical lands and magical times of yore. These are wonderful feelings that inspire me to think in a romantic vein, and I can only believe the adage that “The only things between the known, and the unknown, are doors.”


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