Discovered at every archaeological dig are pottery
jars used for storing water and grain. Today, these
are still fired in man made wood-fuelled kilns. The
various shapes and sizes of the water, grain and later
oil jars, are displayed in the Heritage Museum, (see
Museums section). New locally made pots are on sale
in the Plant Souk, Al Soor.
The old Arabic bridal
chests which are becoming a rarity were made throughout
the Gulf, characterized by the solid wood (usually teak
or rosewood) with inlaid brass decoration and often,
secret compartments. Smaller wooden chests, with carved
decoration only and many compartments were made specifically
for the pearling industry. Pearls would be graded and
stored in the boxes according to size, along with scales
and other pearling paraphernalia.
Weaving and embroidery
was used for dress decoration and practical purposes.
These traditional crafts are still popular pastimes
amongst the national women.
The locally available
date palm fibers are woven to produce mats, baskets,
bags and bowls plus fans used for lighting fires.
There is a shop in Souk Al Arsah which sells these crafts
and you will also find them on sale in the old Iranian
Bazaar which runs parallel to the creek. For further
details, see Souks section. Perfume and Incense are
an integral part of Arabic life for both men and women
and are usually family run businesses. The three types
of perfume and how they are mixed are a closely guarded
secret. Attar is the oil based perfume, bukhoor is the
fragrant burnt incense (formed by burning the wood chips)
and the third is a wax sachet, which when burnt gives
off a charcoal odor.
A visit to Al Shuwaiheyn
between the Arts Area and Al Boorj Avenue is recommended.
You will find many perfume shops here with the oils,
the incense woods and burners on display. With a little
gentle persuasion, the shop keepers will show you the
famous bukhoor and allow you to test the perfumed oils,
see Souks section.
Henna, made from the
leaves of the lawsonia inermis shrub, has been used
for centuries to enhance beauty in the Middle East and
India. Traditionally, henna is used to color hair and
to decorate the palms of hands and the soles of feet,
specially for weddings and Eid celebrations. The coloring,
which also contains cooling properties will remain on
the skin for several weeks before fading. In addition
to Indian and Arab beauty centers which provide this
treatment, you can buy henna transfers in the Iranian
Bazaar, just behind the Arts Center!