Omani Souvenirs – I
Jerz axe making
The craft of Jerz making is unique to Musandam, and the local men here carry this long-handled axe as part of their traditional costume. In days gone by, the Jerz was used for chopping firewood; as a support stick while walking and climbing over Musandam’s rocky terrain; and occasionally, as a weapon of self-defense against wild animals. Jerz making falls under the metalworking or blacksmithing craft in Oman – something which the Sultanate’s people are famous for. A typical Jerz is just under a meter in length and a few centimeters in diameter. The axe head is about 10 centimeters long.
The silversmith craft and culture in Oman is unique and fascinating. This is due to the fact that over several centuries, the silversmiths and metalworkers of Oman have taken design elements in silverware manufacture from all over the world – especially India, East Africa, China, various Middle Eastern centres and even Europe – and come up with a unique style of their own that is inspired and influenced by the Omani culture and identity. Nizwa is renowned for its high quality silverware, but silver products can be found throughout the Sultanate.
Throughout Oman’s history, women have worn kohl around their eyes. The function of khol is a cosmetic one – and it is said to give a woman’s eyes more expression. Kohl is a paste traditionally made from finely powdered sulphide of antimony mixed with rosewater – and in some cases, wood ash mixed with vegetable oils. These days, kohl is commercially available, but the traditional, hand-made version is held in high esteem, and worn with pride. An Almekhala is a small metal bowl (it is sometimes made of silver) used to contain kohl.