Monday, February 19, 2018

THE HOUSE: Gardening Attempts Update

So my co-wife has been quite successful with training her bougainvillea to arch over her entry...She is growing her's for privacy.
Inspired by her success I have decided to try to grow an arch over my front entry gate...
Right now it looks completely sad. Nowhere near as lush as the neighborhood bougainvillea :
My three-year-old loves helping out at the garden centers. 
We have also started to plant Syrian grape vine along the side of the house. I have to do a lot more work on this obviously.
We began planning the back courtyard garden. These are the before photos.
 A lot more work here obviously, too.
We started the rough layout of the kitchen garden...Basil, mint, parsley, corriander, Spanish lemon trees...with the more decorative plants, like Spanish olive, Cyprus, and a little white alysium for ground cover. I have no idea yet if our Spanish pomegranate trees will prove to be more decorative than edible in Muscat.
The basil and mint are doing really well, alhamdulilah.
 And the pomegranate
and the lemon trees are already in bloom.
Anyways, the goal is to have the entire garden shaped by the end of the next three weeks. That means paving, stone laying, fixing gravel, and more trips to the local Seeb nurseries.
OH, and the coconut tree is still alive, Alhamdulilah.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

OOTD: Burnt Orange Nawal Al Hooti Caftan/Abuthail

Nothing is more comfortable than this Dhofari abuthail (which, because I am short, is now a caftan). I love the handwork in Nawal's designs.
While most of the embroidery is hidden under the necessary chest-covering part of my hijab, it ressembles traditional Omani silver jewelry designs. That's why I have photographed the back. The shoulders have a detail of antique Omani earrings, and the back of traditional necklaces.
This is the kind of thing I wear around the house in mixed family settings...and I just add jewelry and a clutch to dress it up for ladies' parties.
My clutch is made out of palm frond and I have no idea where it is from---my Mil left it at my house and I have stolen it.
My jewelry is all antique Omani Ad Dhakliyia silver. You can find in Mutrah, Nizwa, and Sinaw. Nawal Al Hooti has an Al Mawalleh South boutique.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Horse Show in Al Sharqiyah this Upcoming Friday

As promised here is an upcoming event. I can't go, alas, as there is a traditional handicrafts exhibition on in Sharjah in the UAE on Thursday but if I had the energy I would go...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

OMANI HORSEMANSHIP: Ibra Al Arrdha

It takes a brave rider to master the art of Al Arrdha. This is a form of trick-riding and equestrian showmanship.
The style hails from the calvary of historic Arabia, in which, a long lance-like spear, and a small buckler shield covered in rhinoceros hide were the primary weapons used by Arabian calvary. Freedom of the upper body from management of the horse was required to weild such weaponry.
As such, management of the movement of the horse in this style is more through the use of limbs, and the inflection of the rider's body, than through use of the reins.
Speed and agility were the historical advantage of this fighting style, and this brash, exciting equestrian form is still practiced and preserved in Oman, although the shields and lances are no more.

This month I was invited to a locally arranged Al Arrdha which took place in the village of Al Thabti in Ibra on Friday the 26th. I used to ride myself, but mostly jumping and dressage, so I can certainly appreciate the skill and daring that underlies this art. As I told my husband before the event even began, one does not become good at this kind of riding without falling off the horse at least once.
We were told that in Al Thabti the riders generally take to the field around four pm (after the Asr prayer) and then ride until sunset.
To begin the Al Arrdha the riders trot their horses lightly up and down the Al Thabti track, reciting a traditional poem to open the event. They are formally dressed with Omani khanjar daggers belted at their waists, and mussayr headcoverings wrapped.
The horses are gloriously adorned as well, in decorative silver embellished bridles and with their brightly coloured saddle blankets. My children debate which is the finest piece of horse flesh on the field as they do so. My son likes the colour of the black horses, my daughter the white. I favour a Bay, for its form and spirit, rather than its colouring, although I have a soft spot for wild grey mares:) .
When the recitation and parade comes to an end the daring begins.
In pairs the riders gallop up the track in a fury of pounding hooves, and in a striking flash of golden dust they attempt to link arms. Riding side-by-side as close as possible, the most skilled and experienced of the Ibra riders manage to keep their galloping mounts in the perfectly even and unison form and pace required to execute the linked arms form. From this form, should the riders have the strength, timing, balance, and the bravado, one rider may use his companion to stand hands free on the back of a horse at full gallop.
However, for one young fifteen year old rider, the balance and timing required was lost for a moment in the frantic pacing of his horse (which appeared to me, to also be quite young). The boy was thrown, and the gathered onlookers held their breath. I put down my camera lens just to see what way he fell so I could rush to stop anyone from moving him, if it was a neck or head first tumble. Alhamdulilah, to our relief, he managed to throw himself clear of the hooves pummeling beside him, and I noted from the manner of fall he clearly had the wind knocked out of him, and might have cracked some bones, but it was safe for his friends to move him.
As I said, it takes a brave soul to pursue this riding style, and as soon as the fallen rider was carried from the track to be taken to the hospital for an x-ray the Al Arrdha continued. It went on just as bravely, and with joyous, reckless abandon, until sunset.

The next day we learned the young rider was well, found to be uninjured, and is probably riding again already. His horse needs the practice.
Al Arrdha is a thrilling, and very visually stunning tradition, which is thankfully still being locally preserved in Oman. The Ibra shows are arranged by the riders themselves and have no regular timing regrettably. However, through social media Oman-related-events groups the riders keep those interested in attending future events informed of upcoming show dates and provide directions to such. The next time I learn a show date for Al Arrdha I will try to remember to post it here on the blog.

Thanks for reading. -OPNO "a"

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What We Buy at Muscat Festival

I have attended the Heritage Village section of Muscat Festival since the days of the terrible parking in Qurum. My family loves being able to see the reenactments of traditional life, and the craftspeople at work. My husband and kids enjoy eating Jolla and helwa in the food section.
Every year we save to buy something. For myself this is usually bukhoor (incense) and a Bedouin rug. My kids buy purses or toys. My husband takes the contact numbers of different craftspeople, such as the copper and silver smiths.
Next year I may have to splurge on the gorgeous Omani pottery I saw this year.
I definitely intend to commission some items from the copper worker whose work is pictured above.
My souvenirs for this year were two Bedouin rugs, ranging from 25-45omr.
 I also bought a large laundry basket for 6 omr.
 My daughter bought little Omani women's dresses purses for herself and her cousins, perfect for Eid, for 2-3 Omr.