Potters of Bahla in Oman 

In Oman, anybody born in Bahla* used to enter the world of  the ancient art of vessel making. Even today you can find the spin of the potter’s wheel on any day of the week – except Friday. It is said that the potters of Bahla are born with magic  fingers.

The land around Bahla contains a very special clay. It comes from the wadi floor and is ideal to be worked on the wheel. A potter uses long strokes on the damp clay to shape the vessels.  

Over the years kilns have changed in Bahla from the original small dome-shaped oven to huge multi-level kilns with four posts at each corner acting as chimneys. The heat can be felt from several metres away.

At the entrance to Bahla is a small pottery that was developed by the government. The souk, which is in the town square and shaded by a huge tree displays pots and other items form the local potters.

However, the traditional the pottery trade is dwindling.  Where as before most families in Bahla were somehow involved in the craft, today there are only a few left.

Ancient pottery around the UAE

Frequently excavations in antiquity sites around the UAE reveal ancient pottery, which is still regarded as one of the oldest handicrafts in the UAE.

In the UAE, the making of pottery is a link between old crafts and the present. It opens a window towards the past, showing  the historical civilizations.

It is believed that the history of pottery in the Emirate goes back to the Umm Al Nar era, which dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. Graves discovered in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and later in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, were found to include pottery. 

* Bahla is a UNESCO World Heritage Sitetown, located 40 km away from Nizwa, and about 200 km from Oman’s capital Muscat.

Photo of potter at potter’s wheel by Clive Gracey



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