Regout in Oman

These Regout Maastricht ceramic bowls were produced between 1883 and early 20th century. In the same period, 10 kilometres from Maastricht, in Luik / Liege copies of Martini Henry guns were produced for the Omani arms trade named "Muscat Martini Henry's"

Regout Maastricht

In the souqs of Oman we were very surprised to find a lot of pottery from Belgium  and Holland. The Dutch pottery was mostly produced by  Regout in Maastricht in the Netherlands . The Regout marks on the bottom of the pottery shown here were in use from around 1883.

Maastricht is only about 10 kilometres away form Luik / Liege in Belgium. The Maas river passes through both towns. During the period the pottery was made in Maastricht, copies of British Martini Henry rifles were made in Liege/Luik by e.g Dessart. These rifles are known by collectors as "Muscat Martini Henry's" clearly  made for the Muscat arms market!!!!

One of the bowls has the design "Cenis"and this was used from 1883.The other bowl  has the design "Pompeia". This is a design that was first used in the 1850's but in combination with the Regout mark we can conclude that it has been produced from 1885 onwards. During the very early 20th century the Regout Mark changed again, giving an end date for the production.

Regout Maastircht Pottery Oman

Regout transfer-ware bowl with design Pompeia (produced from 1884) The design was already first used in the 1850's, but in combination with the Regout mark we can date it from 1884 onwards.

Regout Transfer-ware bowl with design Cenis (produced from 1894)

 It is very strange that this type of pottery was exported from Belgium and Holland to Oman, Oman had already become quite poor by this period.  Oman was impoverished by then because of the:

  • Split of Oman and the much more prosperous Zanzibar Omani colony. Zanzibar had to pay an annual fee to Oman as compensation, but this had stopped after a while (against the agreement)
  • Switch from sailing ships to larger steamships (no need to stop anymore at Muscat)
  • Continuous fighting between tribes in the interior and the Sultan on the coast (Sultan had to pay off tribes to maintain the peace. If the Sultan did not pay up he was attacked and the money obtained by the tribes through plundering. Even the Sultan's palace was plundered.
  • Violent Wahhabi gangs / tribes  from current Saudi Arabia also had to be paid off by the sultan to maintain the peace.
  • The Sultan did not have sufficient money to pay the previously mentioned  "bribes" so he had to borrow from the British and became completely dependent on them.
  • Ending of the slave trade. In 1902 the Portuguese captured an Omani fleet 11 ships with 114 Omani crew  and 725 African slaves. The 114 Omani from Sur were imprisoned by the Portuguese for a long time. This ended the slave trade from Sur

This also resulted in  Omani traders taking up lucrative activities such as the illegal gun trade. In Belgium a lot of guns including copies of Martini Henry's were produced. These guns are even called "Muscat Martini Henry's".  Many of these guns were even supplied to rebels fighting the British in Afghanistan and India. For details on the Omani involvement in the illegal arms trade at that time see see Ref 1 Keppel.

It is therefore very likely that loads of pottery from Belgium / Holland was used to fill free cargo space in the ships to supplement the  gun shipments. It is also even possible that the pottery was used to hide the guns, but his is pure speculation we have so far not found hard evidence of this.  

Name: Regout Maastircht Netherlands  Models Cenis and Pompeia

Period: 1883-1910

Origin: Purchased in the Omani Muttrah souq over 25 years ago

Regout Pompeia Design

The website GeheugenvanNederland has detailed information on when specific Regout designs were first used (see above illustration) .Therefore we know that our specific Pompeia design plus Regout Mark was first used from 10 July 1884.

  1. Gun-Running and the Indian North West Frontier, by Keppel, publisher John Murray London 1911:
  • Page 50:  From 1897 the Sultan of  Muscat issued a proclamation granting to the British and Persian men of war the power to search vessels in Muscat waters.e.g. on board s.s. Baluchistan 220 cases of arms and ammunition were found destined for Bushire.....By 1902 the trade through Persian and British Baluchistan had assumed such proportions that the law and order on the Perso-Baluch frontier was threatened
  • Page 52:  To avoid vessels being searched Omani ships sailed under the French flag! In 1905 this practice was forbidden by the International court in The Hague. ...
  • Page 53/54:   In 1909/1910 so numerous were the captures of gun running dhows that skippers soon learnt to look before they "skipped"
  • Page 124 : As the centre of arms traffic in the Gulf, Muscat naturally bristles with rifle depots and stores. The Customs House quay is seldom unencumbered with cases of rifles and ammunition , while every other shop in the bazaar is a rifle shop.
  • Page 125: Owing to a naval blockade by the British there are in Muscat at least 200.000 rifles and probably 3.000.000 rounds of ammunition for which  a market cannot be found.

   2. The Sultan's Spymaster Peera Dewjee of Zanzibar by Judy Aldrick published by Old Africa books Kenya. in 2015 page 273. This book contains information about Regout pottery imported into Zanzibar early 20th 273: "The old established German Company Oswald & Co, was one of the first to export the stoneware plates into East Africa in large numbers, but faced stiff competition from Indian wholesale merchants such as Peera Dewjee and Adamjee Karimjee, who prospered because they managed to negotiate sole agencies with the potteries. Peera Dewjee had a monopoly agreement with Petrus Regout  of Maastricht, whose wares were particularly prized in Zanzibar. His plate service proved so successful that Oswald withdrew from the trade as it was no longer profitable (see Schwidder Ph.D. thesis) . There was a fierce price war, which Peera won, but eventually the price per bowl was fixed at one Maria Theresa dollar"

British Naval staff searching Omani ship for slaves or arms