Friday, June 23, 2017

Souq Sinaw on Thursday Morning, Just Before Eid Al Fitr Weekend

Sinaw Souq in Al Sharqiyah is probably my favourite livestock souq in Oman. It beats Nizwa for me because Sinaw has more camels, and there is just something so fantastically authentically Arabian about wandering around so many Bedouin women in their gauzey bright dresses with their gold and black birqa masks, and all the men with their rifles slung casually over their shoulders.
To get there we woke up in Muscat super early, and left by 4 am. We took the old road, although one could come by the Izki way. We got to Sinaw around 6:30 am, on a Thursday morning (yesterday) just before the Eid weekend, when the souq is, arguably, at its most impressive.

Apparently the GPS for Souq Sinaw is  N23˚ 09' 52” E57˚ 51' 14”. The timing for the Souq is Thursday mornings, open from 7am-11am. The last time I went here was 6 years ago, and we were a bit late, and missed all the good stuff.

This time, we made it on time.

We drove past the carpets hung off the sides of trucks, parked at a closed dry cleaners, then walked through the pots, and clothes and toys, to the white gates that read in black English letters "Souq Sinaw". This little loup is the best part of the Souq: the livestock auction ring, the fish and fruit and veg, and on the sides, the knife and khanjar shops.
My children love it for the goats being crammed four to a wheel-barrow, or the baying of young camels being dragged past us after being bought at auction.

My sister-in-laws like the very authentic antique Omani silver jewelry (usually in Khanajr store, not always in silver stores). If I wasn't broke, I'd have bought the silver anklets I saw while my husband was buying the boys new assa sticks, and bullets. Not that I need giant-ass anklets, but ya know, they were cool.

My Omani husband likes Souq Sinaw for the knives, and khanjars, which is why we happened to go yesterday. There are some really good craftspeople for khanjars in Sinaw, and decent antiques as well.

I wandered around staring rudely at people (because I love how Bedouin dress!) but I was too shy really to ask anyone if I could take their pictures, though two lovely local women in a pick-up decided to talk to me because my kids and I look strange. We were probably as odd a sight for the souq, as Bedouin dress is to me;).

The people watching is one of the best things about Sinaw, but it is also the thing my Omani husband hates the most, because it seems alright for Bedouin to stare, but I don't know, I felt fine. No one was creepy beyond staring, and since everyone was staring, that wasn't even creepy, so... And the women were friendly.

Beyond people watching, and buying my kids really crap plastic toys because you can't avoid this here, there were a few Omani handicrafts stores, but I liked the fresh smell of the herb and grass section of the souq, after spending a lot of time near the livestock section of the souq.
Afterwards, knowing how much I love Old Omani architecture, my husband took my up the hill over the souq, to see the old mud brick village part of Sinaw, and it really was impressive. I felt like I could truly imagine walking around here when people still lived in what are now ruins. The spaces, and arches, impressed me, along with the harat designs, around little courtyards. Sharqiyah architecture definitely has more arches than interior architecture.
The inner parts of the arches, exposed due to the current state of  the sites' deterioration, show how they were constructed, which I found  really interesting. Same for the outer township walls.
I mean, I literally felt like I was passing into a fairy-tale when I slipped inside through one collapsed room. It is one of the least tourist-ey tourist sites in Oman.
...I could have wandered around for hours, but my kids wanted a bathroom, and so, we had to leave this enchanted setting, alas. I wonder what it would have been like growing up here? Would the local Omani kids have played in the ruins throwing dust and mud clods at one another, like I made war with pinecones and played at Robin-Hood in the forest when I was a little girl in the land-far-and-away?
 We went from Sinaw via the Izki way, and my kids were delighted because they got to see a camel crossing the road:

Monday, June 19, 2017

OPNO's Favourite Arabian Style Fabrics by European Designers Pt. 1

 I, of course, love anything "Naz" by Alidad. Blue or red, doesn't matter.
I also find Gubbio in Sage and Salmon to be lovely (also Alidad).
Alidad's "Bosphorus" could be useful.
 Pierre Fray "Les Collines"
Of course, Pierre Fray "Tree of Life".
Pierre Fray "Taj Mahal" in blue.
Pretty much ANYTHING classically Fortuny in velvet or block printed linen.
Home Couture's "Persepolis". I like the melon and the brown and navy, but would love to use the Fig and Taupe. And there's just too many to choose from Martyn Lawrence Bullard (who has the most lovely Irish castle you ever could believe):
"Fez" borders on linen.
 "Sultan's Garden"
"Turkish Ticking"
"Cameroon" (I like it in Beige not Indigo)
"Sinhala" in Pomegranate
"Tokapi" in Sepia
"Sultan's Trellis" in Sepia or Pomegranate
"Algiers" by Robert Kime
"Tashkent" by Robert Kime
"Tansy" in Rust or Indigo by Robert Kime.
"Palmette" in Blue by Richard Kime (reminds me of 12th century Egyptian tiles.)
"Ibrahim" by Robert Kime

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Window Grille Styles of the Interior of Oman

One rather expensive aspect of restoring our old Omani mud house will be replacing the mostly non-existent window grilles and some shutters. For our house, most of these are missing, and the ones that are there, the engineer may say they are in too bad a condition to restore. I'll double-check what the engineer thinks with what I know of museum conservation work, but yeah, they look pretty bad to me too.

The family that happen to be neighbors to the house I bought happen to be a famous crafts-person family for carpentry, so we will probably commission them for the work, but there is one other Omani carpenter working in Bahla whose work we like, and if I am not supporting my neighbors, then I definitely want to hire that old man. I want everything about the house to be Omani-made if and when possible, and correct to the region and time period of the house (beyond plumbing, toilets, kitchen, lighting, acs, and electricity of course.

So thus, I am looking at Interior Region style window grilles.

Since my old house is in the Interior/Ad Dhakliyiah Region of Oman, I am forcing myself to keep to the styles from that region, no matter how lovely the examples from Mirbat in Dhofar are. Maybe I'll do a separate post about Al Sharqiyah, Dhofari, and Muscati window styles? The most beautiful in my opinion are from Mirbat. But irregardless, I do not own an old house in Mirbat. Another project for another lifetime, that;).

I would like to keep these relevant to the time period the original foundation for the house was erected (so I am guessing 1900s---I don't think my house is too old but the engineer will know for sure when she sees it, because the house next to it is built using conical mud bricks, and this is an older building style so I dunno. My house has been too badly "maintained" and "upgraded" to know much of the architectural base (at least for a novice to Omani restoration work like me).

So while 1600s style window grilles can be found in Bahla, Izki, and Ibra, I really only found two styles from the 1800s-1930s in the Interior, with little variation. If I learn more, I'll change this post of course, but that's what I've found.
The above style, I call the Nizwa style. This, mostly because I saw it first at Nizwa Fort, but the style is all over the Interior: Birkat Al Mouz, Rustaq, Bahla, Nizwa, Jebel Akdhar etc... 

In Arabic it probably has a proper stylistic name I could translate it to. I will definitely ask the carpenter. 

I like the carved bottom panel and so this is what we will probably go with for our house window grilles. I don't like when they add wooden or iron bars to it, but for safety reasons, since many first and second floor windows are close to floor level, I guess why they exist.
The other style, which I told my husband I didn't want to do, (as pictured in the above two photos) is a plain split frame with bars, either wooden spindles, or metal bars.

It is safe, cheap, and...a bit too prison like for me. Like what if I am fighting with my husband, and then I sit there looking out that window? I'll kill somebody. I'll make life worse than it it is. I'll imagine I am suppressed when I'm not...

...At least that's my excuse for why we need the more expensive option of the two;).
Older style from Bahla include geometric wood overlay panels for arched windows, or more Gothic-style cut-work on the upper part of the panels, with bars being on the lower part of the window. I admit, I like this too, especially the cut-work, but it is probably totally wrong for our house.
 And, there is also the above exampled window, also from Bahla, which is almost Egyptian or Turkish in design. Maybe whoever lived there travelled? I dunno. It isn't correct for Omani window grilles styles, and yet, there is it is, in Bahla.

I don't know. I've seen some variations in Nizwa that are definitely contemporary but keeping with the traditional style, so maybe I could do something like that, but I feel that would be cheating somehow.