Musandam’s rock art a tourist attraction

Lakshmi Kothaneth –
Muscat, July 25 –
For the residents of Qida, this ancient art is part of their environment. The rock art of Musandam can be easily missed if you don’t know where to find it. A collection of boulders on the road that leads to Qida, just 3 km from Tawi, has a number of petroglyphs.
Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving or abrading, as a form of rock art.
Pecked with different technique, experts say, the art work is from different ages.
Abdulrehman Ahmed al Mulla, tourism operator, says, “We’ve seen these drawings since childhood. They are just there. Tourists like to come here.
They are exactly like how they were before. As children we used to go further down to the wadi to look out for more.”
The mounted man on the rocks makes you wonder whether horses were used in Musandam. There are also camels and boat.
There are other sites too. A detailed description is provided at Khasab Castle that serves as a museum as well.
the Royal Geographical Society conducted a survey in 1972, according Paolo Bilagi in the article titled, ‘New Rock Art sites in the Musandam Peninsula, Sultanate of Oman, published in the Bulletin of the Society for Arabian Studies.
“Only three rock art sites had previously been discovered in the 1972 survey, those of Jabal Shamm, Wadi Qidah, namely boat images of historical age (Costa 1991:209).”
The ‘ornamented boulders with petroglyphs’ continue to inspire people from different parts of the world. They are defined as ‘anthropomorphic figures, horsemen, camels and even sailing ships’.
But subjects of the drawings are what could define the chronological indicators.
“The pecking technique employed in the preparation of designs look different,” writes Paolo Bilagi. “It should point to a different age for images which might be used as broad chronological indicators.”
The rocks have survived winds, rain and sun. Its beauty lies in the fact that they are very much part of our daily life.
Abdulrehman said: “As kids when we used to play here, I never knew what the drawings were or their significance. I only understood their importance once I started going to school and learnt about them in history class.”
According to Mohammed al Shihi, a resident of Qida, there is another location where there is a stone house, whose walls have prominent drawings. The drawings, many of them are of camels, are clearer.
“Qida in the past was just a wadi,” pointed out Mohammed. But he is quick to add these drawings could be thousands of years old.
“The animals could be horses, bulls or even donkeys. Camels are clearly defined. They look like they were cultivators.”