Dhofar – Adenium obecium.

 

From my book ‘Plants of Dhofar’  this is Adenium obecium or more commonly known as Desert Rose.

A plant that was treated with fear and a lot of respect in days gone bye: Snakes were believed to get their poison from it and getting close would result in painful eye inflammation if care was not taken. The sap from the bark was used for medicinal purposes as a topical salve for inflammation of joints or limb paralysis. It is poisonous if eaten by animals, so the sap could be used as a fish or arrow poison.

The person collecting this bark should carry something iron and pray out loud while approaching the plant,  strip the bark as quickly as possible then depart without looking back; never return to the same area until a reasonable period of time has passed.
The bark was  pounded then put in warm water to soak, a small piece of iron included in the mixture made it more powerful and stopped the ‘evil eye’ of malcontents or evil spirits interfering with it.

Early fishing boat construction – Dhofar.

These are examples of a traditional method of sewn-boat construction (no nails) which is no longer carried out in Dhofar: the last person with this skill, died in the 1990’s, although a few still live in the Musandam. (Seminar of Arabian Studies 40)

Archæological evidence from the al-Balid site, of timbers re-used as building materials when boats were no longer sea worthy, indicate that this method of construction in Dhofar is very old.

All the materials come from the Coconut palm – wood, cordage & wadding, with a covering derived from fish oil. The tools used being saw, adze, chisel & hammer, along with a good eye for a straight line & curves – undoubtedly very accomplished carpenters.

St George’s Day.

St George’s Day (England) & the death of William Shakespeare.
This precious stone set in a silver sea
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…..

John of Gaunt’s death-bed speech – Richard II (William Shakespeare)

Erosion.

ErosionRillenkarren – Erosion of rock during Oman’s wetter phase.

The technical description from my geology book says:

Rillenkarren.- Are forms of dissolution on the surface of the rocks that consist of small channels separated by sharp crests configuring a network of tight more or less parallel gullies next to each other. Its Genesis is linked to the dissolution of the rock by the sheet of water that forms on it as a local run-off.

 

Something happy for Easter weekend.

Alma Deutscher: Born February 2005 in Oxford.

In response to her music – some people have said that one should not compose beautiful melodies in the 21st century, but that music must reflect the complexity and ugliness of the modern world.
Her answer !

“But I think that these people just got a little bit confused. If the world is so ugly, then what’s the point of making it even uglier with ugly music?”.

More from Al Baleed.

Al Baleed.

 

Al Baleed or Al Balid (from the Jibbali Arabic for ‘town’) is what is now known as the Al Baleed Achæological Park & Frankincense museum.

This extensive site described in great detail by Dr Paolo M. Costa, working with the Ministry of Heritage & Culture between 1976/86 can be found in The Journal of Oman Studies Vol:5. [The Study of the city of Zafar (al Balid) ] unfortunately I have not been able to find a link for this publication – Oman does not seem to make these publications easily available on the internet.

Al Baleed (Zafar, the city where the name Dhofar comes from) was an ancient port located near what is now Salalah. Recent excavation has shown that the site was inhabited from around the 5 millennia BCE. It continued its development in the late Iron Age through the Middle Ages until it fell into decline for a number of reasons; the reduced need for trade in Frankincense & then its horses. The silting-up of the harbour didn’t help: As the deep water receded, the big trading vessels were not able to dock. Arab and European historical references indicate that it was rebuilt several times from the early 10th century CE until its decline around the middle 1200s CE.

The city & its ‘Great’ mosque with over 140 pillars, minaret & associated outbuildings was still in use until the 17th centenary CE.

Marco Polo described the city as prosperous and one of the main ports on the Indian Ocean trade route. Although like a lot of other places (Masirah for instance) that he is supposed to have visited, it could be just word of mouth as the saying goes. Ibn Battuta visited this site in 1329 and commented on its beauty. In 1846, HJ Carter wrote about the city, pointing to its architecture and grand mosque, which he described as exceptional; he is now questioned for being rather ‘picturesque’ with his description of what was there when he visited. Reports from Miles (1880) and Bentes (1890) are also available describing their visit to Al Baleed.

Considering that the site was robed of stone for many years; it is only because of H.M the Sultan and his desire for the protection of Oman’s heritage, that there is anything left of the site. Fortunately, a lot of building structures and artefacts lay beneath mounds of rubble & sand; so with the on going archæology, more is being discovered every year.