Large plate with fine Safavid style decoration bought in the old Nizwa copper souq , could be 400 years old Diameter approx 80 cm!
This sections contains many objects that are assumed to be imports to Oman, however several may very well have been produced in Oman, like the Persian style copper-work. We start this section with a Worcester Royal Present (hand-painted plate) given by the king of England William IV as a present to the sultan (Imaum) of Oman (Said bin Sultan) in 1837 as part of the contents of the yacht Prince Regent.
Americans had an active trade with Zanzibar and Oman during the first half of the 19th century. Many cloves and most Omani dates were exported to the USA. The American bark (type of ship) Imaum (built in 1850) was one of the ships sailing from the American harbour Salem to Oman and Zanzibar. A picture of this ship has been handpainted on a wooden box, maybe made by a sailor.
Oman had for a long time possessions in Persia e.g. Guadur but also for example Bandar Abbas. Between 1794 and 1868, Bandar Abbas was under the control of Oman through a lease agreement with Persia.The Omanis controlled the coastal stretch of some 100 miles from Sadij to Khamir and inland about 30 miles, as far as Shamil. Also Persian craftsmen worked in Oman for centuries, which complicates determining the origin of objects and may explains some of the ancient Persian artefacts in Oman. You may therefore very well argue these items to be Omani with Persian designs. The Persian Safavid style copper-ware in our collection was purchased in the old Nizwa copper souq and was in the 19th century referred to as "Shirazzi". The wine that was produced in Oman (from the many grapes grown on the Jebel Akhdar) by the Beni Riyam tribe was also referred to as Shirazzi. In fact a village / area with extensive vine-yards located close to Saiq on the Jebel Akhdar mountain plane was called Shiraz (see the map by Wellsted). Several of the "Shirazzi" copper / bell-metal bowls in our collection are in fact wine-bowls (see the V & A book by A.S. Melikian -Chirvani on Islamic Metalwork) In 1673 the Dutchman Padtbrugge writes in his VOC report "The coating of copper with tin by use of sal-ammoniac is here just as usual as in Persia, because all their pots, saucers, and table-dishes are made of brass "
The Chinese provincial pottery commonly found in the Omani souqs dates from around 1780 to 1840. The ginger-pots were typically used in Oman for storing honey and dates. it is very well possible that the Persian tinned copper-work (pots, saucers, table-dishes) preceded the later Chinese provincial pottery. For comparison purposes we have added some jewelry from Yemen, that is bordering Oman in the south.
There is also an ancient staircase, cut out in the rocks, going up the the Jebel Akhdar, named the "Persian steps" and inside Nizwa fort we find ancient Persian canons.
This is part of the first detailed map of Oman by Wellsted in 1842. Note the village Shirazi on the Jebel Akhdar plain!!
Wellsted describes that many grapes are being grown on the Jebel and that wine is being produced on the Jebel Akhdar!!! Maybe the grapes, wine making and wine bowls were introduced by Persians who occupied Oman a long time earlier.
The BBC documentary "The secret history of Shiraz wine" did not make a link to wine making in Oman, but there could very well be a link to the production of Shiraz wine!!
Persian Winebowl Oman (purchased in Nizwa)
Jebel Akhdar: two hundred years ago grapes grew on the Jebel and Wine was made.The Jebel Akhdar and the Jebel Shams are amongst the highest mountains in the Arabian peninsula.
Until the 1950's only one organized army had ever penetrated those heights, the Persians, in the tenth century, stormed the mountains with great loss and fought a victorious battle on their summit, nine thousand feet up. Many of the Persians liked the place so much, despite this bloody introduction to it, that they settled on the slopes of the Jebel Akhdar and their descendent still live there.
In 1672 the Dutchman Padtbrugge visited Muscat and described the craftsmen in the Muscat souq and the techniques they used. He writes "The trade and crafts are mostly practised by people from Sind and Banians (Hindus). Prisoners from Diu (a Portuguese colony in India) fill the gap left by local craftsmen. One finds however many Arabian rifle-makers and sword-cutters, and also anchor black-smiths and cannonball-blacksmiths, etc." This confirms that craftsmen from other countries have been working for centuries in Oman. Therefore items we identify as possible imports may in fact have been made by Persian or Indian craftsmen working in Oman.
Large Chinese bowl acquired in Muttrah souq Oman, dating from around 1850