The magnificent voice of the late Luciano Pavarotti.
My introduction to opera, he was a sad loss.
A breech loading single shot rifle using a falling block action and chambered for a .45 caliber round-nosed bullet, notorious for its heavy recoil. Having used a Lee-Enfield .303 and feeling the recoil from that if not held correctly, I would hate to think how much this gun hurt the shoulder if not tucked in and the thumb in the right place.
I remember around 1987, watching a man from the Jebel Akhdar trying to sell one at the old open-air Friday market in Nizwa. He was also carrying a bandoleer filled with various bullets, mainly .303 Lee-Enfield but he did have at least 3 of the type his rifle actually used.
That was when the enclosed Souk was still open and these rifles could be purchased without much difficulty.
On the left, a standard .22 Caliber LR cartridge. On the right, a rolled brass Short Chamber, Boxer-Henry .45 Caliber cartridge. Big !!!
Image from – martinihenry.com
Made at an abandoned (?) village on Jebel Harim Musandam: I question the abandoned because the owners would leave their Jebel accommodation and move to the coast for a couple of months each year, for fishing and general trade, so I was never sure.
The people of this area of Oman are very interesting in many ways, according to recent research the ‘Shihuh’ who occupy most of the mountainous area are a mystery.
Paolo Costa, former head of Oman’s Department of Antiquities say “Ethnically, we don’t know who they are, there is speculation that they are the original inhabitants of Arabia, pushed back into the mountains by successive Muslim and Portuguese invasions” . The Shihuh are semi-nomadic – farming their hillside terraces in the winter and living by the coast in summer to fish and harvest dates – their summer homes palm frond huts, their winter ones low stone houses that blend almost invisibly into the mountainsides. Another of the Shihuh’s peculiarities is that the men carry a long-handled axe (called a jerz) rather than the traditional curved Arab dagger, or khanjar. “The remains of some prehistoric weapon?” (From Aramco World. Vol:34)
I have one of these axes from my time in the Musandam.
Other than arriving by sea, getting into the Musandam was very difficult and in some ways dangerous for outsiders; not only because of the lack of access (mountainous with precipitous cliffs) but also because the locals had a fearsome reputation. Whether justified or not, it did dissuade outsiders which achieved the result they wanted.
They speak a dialect of Arabic (A mixture of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu) which has probably evolved through several hundred years of isolation. Another area on the coast called Kumzar has a language very similar; a mix of Farsi, Arabic, Baluchi, Portuguese and English.
Since the mid – 1970’s there has been a development programme that is modernising the Musandam but still maintaining its culture and traditions. It welcomes tourists with modern hotels, 4×4 adventure camping, Dhow cruises and I have enjoyed some of the best diving in the Gulf. (Large Sharks, whale sharks & tropical reef fish)
This fort may have been built in the 16th century by the Portuguese although doing a search for its history seems to show conflicting information. It was certainly used in the 17th century by Saif bin Sultan Al Ya’rubi. The distinctively shaped tower was constructed to deflect cannonballs; the fort was a lot closer to the sea than it is today and it had a ditch on at least three sides, that would fill with sea water.
Some interesting history from the book: The Ya’rubi dynasty of Oman. Raymond Denis Bathurst.
Sultan bin Saif Al Ya’rubi defeated Portuguese troops, who had been occupying certain coastal dominions. This liberated Omani trade and ushered in nearly a century of relative wealth and progress, until the death of Sultan ibn Sayf II and resultant break out of civil war in 1718.
The Al-Ya’ariba trace their descent from Ya’arab bin Kahtan, whom some date to about 800 BC. The family originated in Yemen and belonged to the Ghafiri faction. Nasir bin Murshid bin Sultan al Ya’Aruba (r. 1624-1649) was the first Imam of the Yaruba dynasty, elected in 1624. He moved the capital to Nizwa, the former capital of the Ibadhi Imamate. Nasir bin Murshid was able to unify the tribes with a common goal of expelling the Portuguese. He built up the Omani army and took the main towns as well as the forts of Rustaq and Nakhal. His forces threw the Portuguese out of Julfar (now Ras al-Khaimah) in 1633. In 1643 they took the fort at Sohar.
Nasir bin Murshid was succeeded by Sultan bin Saif (r. 1649-1688), his cousin. Sultan bin Saif completed the task of expelling the Portuguese. He captured Sur, Qurayyat and Muscat, expanded the fleet and attacked the Portuguese on the Gujarat coast. Under Sultan bin Seif and his successors Oman developed into a strong maritime power.The Omanis took many of the Portuguese possessions in East Africa. The first attack on Zanzibar, then held by the Portuguese, was in 1652. In 1660 Omani forces attacked Mombasa, forcing the Portuguese to take refuge in Fort Jesus. There was continued fighting between the forces of Portugal and Oman in the East African coast in the years that followed.
Bil’arab bin Sultan (r. 1679-1692) succeeded as Imam in 1679 after the death of his father, Sultan bin Saif. This confirmed that the succession was now hereditary, since his father had also succeeded dynastically, while in the Ibadi tradition the Imam was elected. Most of his reign was occupied in a struggle with his brother, Saif bin Sultan, who succeeded Bil’arab bin Sultan when he died at Jabrin in 1692.
Another from my negative files.
The building where this was made no longer exists: water erosion and general neglect took its toll.
Mud brick buildings at some of the ruins in Oman have suffered with the last two major cyclonic storms Gonu & Phet. Mud brick is very strong but needs constant attention if it is not to erode during heavy rain storms.