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Thursday, May 24:  This morning, I visited Bait al Zubair, a museum in Old Muscat with exhibits relating to Omani culture, customs and craftsmanship.  The collection was amassed by the Zubair family, who still owns and operates the museum.

Bait Al Zubair Museum

The museum is spread over 3 separate buildings, and most of the collection is in the Bait al Bagh (“Garden House”), originally built in 1914 as the Zubair residence.  Displays include regional Omani women’s costumes, khanjars, chests and household items such as coffee pots to kohl holders, and jewelry.

Regional women’s dress

al Hirz: a traditional Omani necklace made to hold the Quran or specially selected verses.  It is made of finely crafted silver pressed with gold. Most Hirz have chains hanging from them with bells or hand-shaped pendants that represent the hands of Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

traditional bed

al SANDOUQ: wooden chests ornately decorated with carvings and brass, which served a multitude of purposes. Chests in Oman can be dated back to the 16th century and the different styles reflect the Sultanate’s rich seafaring heritage, with influences from Persia, Asia and Africa. Chests are an important part of the Omani household and were generally given, full of treasures, as bridal gifts to girls getting married.

Another Omani chest

a map of the Sultanate divided into regions

I wander around the museum and then go into the gardens, where I find a traditional barasti majlis and a falaj, along with an entertaining Omani-style model village.

a waterfall leading to a falaj in the gardens

inside the barasti majlis in the garden

the model village in the garden

magnolias in the garden

I then wander into the Bait al Oud (“Grand House”), which has old maps and wooden models of traditional dhows, household items, black and white photos from the late 19th century and rooms full of old Islamic coins and historic prints.

an old map of Arabia

a SAMBUQ was popular as a pearling vessel in the Gulf, and was also used to carry cargo and passengers. Built in Sur, Oman, they ranged from 20-150 tons and were up to 80 feet long.

Prints of the Oman coastline

Al Zubair bin Ali

All in all, it’s an interesting excursion and something that’s been on my list for quite some time.  Now that it’s hot outside, I’m looking for more indoor activities!! 🙂

a little lovely in the garden

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