The journey of Oman’s musical history has been eventful and entails a medley of rhythms, notes, sounds and beats which are evolved over a period of time.
Omani society has closely knit connections with music since time immemorial. All its events, celebrations and other gatherings are marked with traditional music of various kinds and age or gender is not a barrier for the people to take part in music.
On a rough estimate, there are more than 130 known forms of traditional music in the Sultanate with each region having its own musical cultures. Dhofar region in southern Oman has a tradition called Al-Bar’ah which includes a war-like dance and tribal chanting. It is performed in a half-circle by both men and women. Similarly, Sur has a set of songs which are sung by fishermen while venturing into the sea.
A rare tribute to Omani music was paid in the form of four postal stamps celebrating, ‘Maidan’, one of the most celebrated art forms in poetry and traditional music.
Each of the stamps pay tribute to Oman’s traditional music and art firm and has specific theme including ‘Dance’, ‘The Poet and the Singer’, ‘Maidan Instruments’, and ‘Maidan Genre in General’.
These stamps, launched in a joint collaboration with the Oman Center for Traditional Music, part of the Sultan Qaboos Higher Center for Culture and Science at the Diwan of Royal Court, involves Omani artists Mohammed al Mamari, Sami al Siyabi, Fahad al Mamari and Salim al Salami.
“The ‘Maidan’ is an arts war of words contest where Omani men gather in their villages, towns and cities to cite poems and sing traditional music,” said Rashad al Wahaibi, Manager of Stamps and Philately at Oman Post, which is a part of Asyad.
“This has been one of the backbones of Omani arts for millennia and Oman Post is doing its part in ensuring its remembered, celebrated and engraved in our culture for generations to come,” adds Al Wahaibi.
The trend to feature Oman’s traditional arts, music and dance forms has been an ongoing one. Last year, another set of interactive stamps celebrating the deep roots and variety of Oman’s traditional music and performance arts, which included key instruments that defines Omani music heritage including the Al Azi, Al Rawah, Barghoum, and Kasir, were launched. This has generated curiosity while marking the name of the Sultanate among the philatelists across the globe.
There has been an increasing interest among the youth towards traditional music which is accompanied by dancing and recitation of poetry, though the styles differ between regions.