‘Cultural symbols’ in Qurayat seek attention

MUSCAT, Aug 4 – Hundreds of drawings and engravings on rocks in the Wilayat of Qurayat, about 90 km from capital Muscat, while confirming the existence of human settlements, gives insights into the primitive life/culture in the area. Rock drawings/paintings have been found at several locations. Geologists describe these engravings as ‘cultural symbols’. A technique called the ‘Pecking Technique’ has been used in creating them. Rock art plays a key role in documenting human history besides throwing light on the kind of communication used during that period.
While some art works express religious beliefs, others define stories and legends. According to sources, many of these art works document social and political states in a certain period. They are “incomprehensible images that open up speculation.” According to a book titled ‘Islamic Art in Oman’, many of Oman’s wadis, plateaus and caves from Musandam in far north to western and eastern Hajar mountains and mountains of Dhofar abound in rock art sites. Their age spans from the prehistoric to Islamic periods to modern times. A majority of Oman’s rock drawings depict figures of animals and humans in addition to pigment-painted rock art scenes in the Governorate of Dhofar.
Ahmed al Nahdi, an environmentalist working in this sector for over 15 years, said these shapes were made by people travelling from villages in Qurayat such as Fins, Wadi Al Arbaeen, Bimmah, Al Hail and Al Mazare. The signs were aimed at providing wayfarers to reach their destinations.
“Our grandparents used to follow these symbols when they moved around the area,” said Ahmed.
“Long ago, locals used to take about 12 hours to travel from Qurayat to Dima W’attayeen. They came back with farm products such as dates, dry lemon and different types of local fruits. These figures are important as they were treated as signboards,” he said.
“Unfortunately, many of these engraved rocks have been washed away by flooding waters,” said Ahmed. “Some of them were subjected to abuse by mountain climbers who drill them carelessly.”
The drawings and engravings assume various shapes. While one drawing shows a man holding a long spear, some show giant people being attacked by dwarfs. There are also many images of monsters. These drawings can be seen in open places in Qurayat’s canyon and close to the mountain paths. Some of these drawings are distorted, while some appear to have been affected by weather conditions. According to the locals, these rock paintings may disappear if they do not get adequate protection. They feel a public awareness campaign is necessary to preserve this national heritage. Most important, they want the area fenced so that they can be preserved and protected from violations.