Carved Doors and Ornaments

Omanis are very careful not to show social status through dress – everyone from humblest fisherman to government minister wears the simple dishdasha. But when it comes to the door of a man’s home, there is no such uniformity.

Omani architecture is generally simple and unadorned, without the dainty elaboration, ledges and wall reliefs found elsewhere.

This plainness emphasizes the significance of doorways and the effect of decorative work on doors. The clear geometrical forms stem from the traditional repertoire of Islamic motifs: stylized lotus leaves and other simple floral patterns show the influence of India and Persia; sumptuous bands of carved flower motifs are typical of East African countries. Some of the doors even were produced in East Africa and brought to the villages in Oman by dhow and camel.

This unique cultural heritage is now seriously endangered: the old building materials of clay, stone and wood are being replaced by concrete, steel and cement. They are simply no longer fashionable. The building trade is nowadays dominated by Indians. These craftsmen have not mastered the traditional Omani method of building with clay; doors of steel are driving out those of wood.