11-year festival veteran showcases dhows

Muscat - 

A display of handcrafted dhows and fishing boats put up by an elderly Omani gentleman dressed in work attire in the Heritage Village at Naseem Gardens is unmissable to any visitor to Muscat Festival.

Muscat Daily caught up with artisan Kalifa bin Abdullah al Handasi, a resident of the wilayat of Suwaiq and exponent of this traditional craft for over 40 years.

According to Handasi, he’s a veteran at the festival. “This is my 11th appearance. Many curious visitors come to me and sit by my side to see me work. Shashas, or dhows, are an integral part of Omani culture and most visitors want to carry back a souvenir that is unique,” he said.

Besides scale models of dhows and fishing boats, Handasi also makes household items. “These are made with hand from  scratch,” he said, gesturing at the creations on display.

The items look simple at first glance but closer inspection reveals intricacies, which become evident when visitors see him at work.

“This is a legacy handed over to us by our forefathers and I want to preserve it. If done with dedication, one can profit from it too,” Handasi said. “This craft has taught me to be patient and given me an eye for detail.”

On an average, he makes eight scale models a month. “The traditional designs are the most popular with buyers. The objects at my stall are made mostly of palm fronds.” Handasi’s creations are priced between RO30 and RO150.

He has converted part of his home into a workshop to make scale models and hopes to have a factory to make models for export some day.

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