Thursday, May 17, 2012

Frankincense from Salalah back to the time of the Queen of Sheba, and Ubhar in Shisr

Frankincense tree in bloom
Frankincense is an integral part of Omani culture and history.  I don't remember an Oman without the scent of Frankincense being part of that memory. My friends from my country away and away from here, can't remember a me without my home steeped in the silver smoke so that the cedar wood furniture there was seeped in the scent, and would "bleed it out" still even after all these years that I have been gone back to here.
The area of Dhofar where the unique weather of the monsoon and the dry desert of the Rub Al Khali combine to make this one of the few places on Earth where the rare and precious Frankincense trees can grow. The rareness of the sap produced from this plant made it worth more than gold in the ancient world, and this region of Oman is said to be the Biblical Kingdom of Queen Sheba, also, nearby, in the ruins of Shisr, the long ago defunct incense trail ran to the fabled lost city of Ubhar.
artist's rendition of what 'ubhar' might have looked like but I can guarantee you the architecture is wrong for the period.
The three wise men of the Bible came bearing gifts of gold, myrh, and Frankincense.
]Ancient Salalah and Dhofar has many architectural gems due to the once thriving Frankincense trade.
The more clear and silvery the Frankincense [arabic: luban] the better its quality
Incense peddlar in Dhofar explains how to use a burner and coal to scent one's home and clothing with Frankincense
We burn Frankincense in our homes pretty much everyday in Oman. I just put some lit charcoal on the clay burner and then throw on a few pieces of Frankincense and voila!
No Omani home is complete without the use of "luban" for one's self and guests. It is polite to offer to scent your guests clothing (and hair for the women) with "bukhoor/incense"


4 comments:

Princess Aisha H. said...

As salamu laikum,

I love Frankincense as well and many have started to put in body creams, it so wonderful. The Kingdom of Sheba that's is mentioned in the Quran(Surah Saba), was in Yemen and they have found ruins. :)Also they have said her Kingdom also led into Ethopia as well.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Wa alaykom e salaam Princess Aisha H.:

Me too;)

Yes, and Southern Saudi Arabia, and Southern Oman, the Dhofar region, all made up part of that Biblical Kingdom;) along with the route into Ethiopia.

MJ said...

I love this post. Beautiful. I bet your lovely home does smell so amazing.

ZEHRA FEISAL said...

I love the smell of bukhoor n Oudh