Oman’s ancient tradition as a seafaring people was constantly introducing new ideas in the Sultanate from all over the world. Over the centuries Omani silversmiths have managed to take design and handicraft techniques from the most varied of cultures and meld them together to make their own new developments on a very high artistic level with world-class craftsmanship.
Influences in silverwork from India, Persia, East Africa and China are recognisable. The stars, leaves and petal forms of the Omani repertoire of motifs come from India and Persia. From Africa they took coloured glass beads, from Europe granulation processes, from China rattling bracelets and bells.
The emergence of Islam also extended the formal repertoire and so the palette of jewellery pieces on offer: the crescent moon, the full moon and simple geometrical forms appear on objects.
The pride and joy of an Omaniman is his khanjar, the Omani curved dagger artistically decorated in silver filigree. The khanjar is only worn for official occasions and ceremonies and is less a weapon than an important status symbol.
An Omani woman’s jewellery is a traditional investment, serving as insurance against any financial misfortune. Because women could not be attacked during military conflicts, the silver worn by a woman was a form of life insurance for the whole family.
The precious metal came to Oman mostly in the form of Maria Theresa thalers. The silversmiths either melted down the coins to rework the silver or they integrated them directly into their jewellery, above all in heavy necklaces.