HvWO 007

Pair of Omani antique wooden sandals / shoes

Slideshow Omani antique wooden shoes

Very rare pair of  carved wooden sandals for Omani towns-women made of rosewood with silver toe-pins and bells so you could timely hear the lady approaching. Nowadays wooden shoes  are associated with the Turkish bath, however originally these shoes were also worn in the Harem and even on the street, we have several 19th century photos on the website to confirm this.

For almost identical shoes see the photo of Bibi Salme (in the slide-show) in her memoirs of an Arabian princess. 

Omani princess Emily Ruete wooden shoes

 Omani princess Emily Ruete with almost identical wooden shoes

Height 7 cm (excluding silver pin) Length 26 cm.  Some "magic" moon / star symbols  have been punctured in the surface of the shoe. See picture Ingrams Ref 4 page 463 for similar magic symbols to protect against evil spirits.

Antique Omani shoes

Emily Ruete writes in her Memoirs of an Arabian Princess 1886 about the sounds in the  harem of the palace she grew up : "Children of the most diverse ages were running, quarrelling and fighting in every corner. In between resounding loud summons and clapping hands, which in the Orient is the equivalent of ringing a bell for the servants. Add to this the rattle of the women's wooden sandals, the kabakib (singular kubah), five to ten cm high and often adorned with silver or gold" These wooden shoes were typically only worn at home.

Antique Omani shoes

Arab Name: Qurhaf or Kabakib / Kubkah

Period: 1800-1900

Origin: Oman Zanzibar.

During 18th /19th century also comparable sandals (but different decoration)  were used in Western India (named Paduka) often covered in silver or made of brass/bronze: See Bata shoe museum.

Antique Omani wooden shoes

  1. See the famous photo of Princess Bibi Salme wearing them in Oman Adorned and other books for similar shoes
  2. Craft heritage of Oman Neil Richardson & Maria Dorr Volume two  page 463 illustration 167 (but with wooden toe-pins)
  3. Oman Exhibition Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam 2009 catalog p 141
  4. Zanzibar Its History and its people by W.H. Ingrams 1931
  5. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preu├čischer Kulturbesitz, Ethnologisches Museum Ident.Nr. III E 4685 a,b Similar item without the central wooden support. Also our shoes do not have the bells on the sides. From the collection of Karl Reinhardt 19-th century. Height x Length x wide: 14 x 24,2 x 8,5 cm Height: 9,3 cm (without the toe pin) Title:  Sandaletten einer Prinzessin