crafts with utility value have always maintained the lead
over modern equivalents as people's familiarity with them has run
on for centuries. The practicality of traditional crafts also has
bearing on the availability of raw material locally. Date palms which
abound in almost all areas of the Sultanate not only have proved vital
because of its luscious fruit but also because of the varied uses
of almost all its parts including palm frond and trunk. In fact there
is nothing from a date palm which does not serve some purpose. While
palm fronds are extensively used for rural house construction, especially
by Bedouins who migrate during summer to collect dates, date palm
leaves are used for weaving baskets to store dates.
weaving with date palm leaves has been practised in the Sultanate
for long. Despite modern baskets being available for storage purposes,
the traditional baskets have continued to hold sway as they enable
dates to retain their taste and nutrients. Traditional basket weavers
are professionals who do not engage in any other activity. Throughout
the year they are busy working on the various stages of basket weaving.
Most importantly, basket weaving from date palm leaves reflects the
strong relationship between Omanis and date palms. It clearly reveals
the optimum use of the palms.Most often basket weaving can be witnessed
being practised by veterans from one generation and their children
who get trained by their parents.
few traditional crafts are being pursued with such diligence, thereby
ensuring the continuance of such precious skills.Most Omani villagers
still use baskets made of date palm leaves to store dates as well
as collect them. The type of basket used for storage purposes is called
jrab while the one used for collection of dates is known as qufer.
The one-metre tall jrab can hold 60 kg of dates and can be used for
two years. However, some farmers prefer to use these baskets only
for a year to retain the freshness of dates. Later, the same baskets
may be used for storing dates for goats and cattle. The use of baskets
made of date leaves is especially useful for collection of date honey.
Dates packed in these baskets are stacked one over the other in clean
storage rooms with channels.
a few days, due to heat and pressure, honey starts dripping through
these baskets and flow to the channels where it is collected.Qufer
is mainly used for collection of dates. This type of basket is made
of younger leaves and can be used for carrying 15 kg of dates. Qufer
is priced at RO2.500 a piece and is often used by females who carry
such baskets on their heads while returning from date palm plantations.Date
leaf baskets can be seen in most of the traditional markets such as
Nizwa, Samayil and Sinaw. Villagers continue to prefer these baskets
as they are cheap as well as clean and safe. There are five stages
for basket weaving from date palm leaves.
the first stage dry leaves are cut and collected. In the next stage,
leaves are removed from the stem. In the third stage leaves are put
in water to make them more flexible and strong. In the fourth stage,
the actual weaving process begins and hundreds of metres of bands
are woven and stored at sableh or public majlis. Before the onset
of summer these bands will be woven and kept ready for the final stage
of weaving.In the last stage of weaving, the rolls of bands are again
put in water for a couple of hours before being woven into baskets.
Each of the basket weavers makes a few hundreds of baskets during
a season according to the requirements of their villagers.
also sell some of the baskets in the nearby markets. A piece of jrab
can fetch them one riyal.The traditional basket weavers have no other
job or source of income. These old men are very famous for their expertise
in basket weaving which they have been continuing for a very long
time. While professionals have great speed in basket weaving , the
younger artisans who have been newly trained take more time to finish
their job. A great deal of patience is required to do a fine job of
basket weaving. Interestingly, some of the professional artisans who
are engaged in basket weaving are blind and they have made a name
for their weaving skills.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for errors.