Ramadhan Kareem

Just a short post. I wish all of my readers a Happy Ramadhan / Ramadhan Kareem / Selamat Menyambut Bulan Ramadhan / Hayırlı Ramazanlar!

May this month bring you an abundant of blessings from Allah the Almighty, and may it will be fruitful and filled with happiness in the days and beautiful sacredness in the nights 18700064_10155302501164254_3985577594872741477_n

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Oman Cultural Days in Brunei Darussalam Part.2

As you may had read from my previous post, in 2016 we welcomed a delegation of Omanis to Brunei as a part of a celebration of a bilateral relationship between Brunei and Oman.  While here, they displayed numerous amount of artifacts and relics (the historical ones are replicas) pertaining to their cultural and historical identities.

Among of these artifacts are a number of metal or silver items, jeweleries and canes. As with other Arab-Islamic countries the Omani art leans to the usage of geometric pattern and vegetal motifs. All of them are intricately carved and decorated mostly in silver.

Perhaps the most identifiable item of the Omanis are their Khanjars; a hook like dagger worn by men on ceremonies. The dagger can be seen on their emblems as well as their banknotes, and worn by men with a belt in the front center of the body. Being an ornamental item as a part of a traditional attire, it is no surprise that the daggers are decorated richly in silver with beautiful hilts made of bone or even precious stones.

This is one example of a Khanjar, with ornamentation of vegetal and geometric designs. The middle band with large swirling designs looks similar if not exactly like the Bruneian motif ‘Ayer Muleh’, which adds to my suspicion that the motif is actually derived from the Arab world.

IMG_20141113_082931A Khanji twith splendid decorations in silver.

Along with Khanjits being displayed at the event, there are several, perhaps antique, jewelery pieces  made in silver. Among these are anklets, necklaces, rings, bracelets and pectoral jeweleries, richly decorated with silver antique coins called Umla, a widespread way of jewelry making throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa.    Coloured beads are used as a part of the jewelry ensemble on some of the items. Some of them are curiously dotted with spikes which gives it a rather frightful appearance. Apparently the spikes, or Boses, was meant to represent breasts and therefore, the jewelry piece in question are meant as a fertility item.  They are, as I had been told and as I can see, were very heavy and quite chunky.

IMG_20141113_083221A pectoral necklace  with small  bells and a moon shaped silver piece and a necklace with a large medallion with Arabic calligraphy with coloured beads.

IMG_20141111_082255More silver necklaces and pectorals decorated with coloured beads

IMG_20141113_083253Large, heavy anklets , silver ‘ spiked’ bracelets and rings.

Canes are also a part of the Omani culture, as they are used for either walking or in dances (as performed by the dancers invited in this event) They too are given attention in regards of the decoration, many of which decorated with carved silver or bones and even precious stones.  They are mostly made of wood, but some are made with ebony with tips decorated in silver with vegetal and geometric motifs as well as polished bone and ivoryIMG_20141113_082855beautifully decorated canes  displayed with other knick knacks.

IMG_20141113_082859The handles and tips of some of the canes, impressively ornamented with fine details.

IMG_20141113_082918A closeup of one of the cane’s decoration, showing flowers and swirly leaf designs, not unlike the ones that can be found in Brunei!

Oman, like other Middle Eastern countries, have a coffee culture. In this exhibition, they pour coffee from silver pots,  under beautiful bedouin tents and low sofas perfumed with copious amount of rosewater  and served with a bowl of Halwa, a traditional sweet made from sugar and rosewater with a little chopped nuts, rendering the dessert sweet and sticky with a rose like odour and dizzying perfume aftertaste. The pots, glasses, rosewater sprinkler, water basins and serving trays are also given the Omani decorative treatment, and as with other silver items being displayed, they too are decorated richly  in exquisite and delicate carvings. The omanis serve and drink their coffee black, but usually with sugar. If no sugar was added to the coffee, then the Halwa  serves as a sweet-but-nauseating perfumed aftertaste.

IMG_20141111_133909Silver serving tray, coffee pot, a water basin to hold hot water and a Halwa bowl, beautifully decorated with carvings

IMG_20141111_133857A closeup on the lid of the Halwa bowl lid exhibiting vegetal motifs

IMG_20141111_133242The silver water basin, again with the swirly leaf design

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Long long hiatus!

Hello, long abandoned blog!

I am very sorry, my followers, for not updating and writing on this blog for a long, long, long time! I feel ashamed for having a great blog but failed to keep it up and running.

Frankly it was because I lost my password to both my WordPress account AND my email I used for this blog! *sigh* anyway I try to keep this blog up and running again, starting with my long overdue Oman exhibition post I had promised.

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Oman Cultural Days in Brunei Darussalam Part.1

I finally obtained the photos I took when I worked as a Liaison Officer for a Cultural showcase from Oman two years ago. As I am currently working for the Ministry of Culture, youth and Sports in Brunei , I was able to join in many, many cultural events that is happening in Brunei, events that I would not be able to participate in, do not have access to or otherwise would not have known should I have not been working here.  I attended cultural exhibitions and shows from China, Japan, Malaysia and for this post, I had the honor of attending a cultural exhibit from Oman, as an exchange between the two ministries of cultures of Brunei and Oman.

As you can read below, the exhibit is held  in honour of the 30th anniverary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Brunei Darussalam and Oman. It was held for four days, from 11 until the 15 of November 2014, at the main hall of the International Convention Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan.

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I will split this article into three ; first, this introduction, the second one will be manuscripts and the third one would be artifacts such as jeweleries  and decorative items. As Oman is in the Middle East region, it is suffice to say that the decorative language they have is very similar to their regional neighbours – a lot of vegetal and floral motifs and geometric designs, although theirs are a lot more tribal in design, as one may see in the photos below.

they have a lot of silver (or perhaps, silver plated) utensils and other items  and they are very decorated in various, complicated designs . They set up two miniature tents, one for seating area and one is for henna tattoo area. Inside, they brought coffee pots, a basin in which they discard water, a serving apparatus for serving their Helwa (sweets) , incense burners (enough to fill the hall completely with swell smelling smokes)  and a sprinkler filled with very,very strong smelling rosewater that will not disappear even after 10  washes (apparently, the Omani produced the best rosewater)  All of these are carved with intricate flowery designs.  These designs for these utensils will be featured in the next article.

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This is me in one of the tents. As you can see there are low (very low) sofas that forces you to sit crosslegged on the floor they are just literally cushions, oriental carpets,  a table with an incense burner on top (Which is thankfully not lit yet, we are not used to being subjected to such immense amount of sweet smelling smokes) and the curtains, well they are the walls of the tent itself, held up by a metal frame. Believe it or not, the Omanis brought all of these from Oman and given away to the higher ups when they have finished with the exhibit.

During the exhibit, there are other cultural events took place. I had mentioned henna tattoo (mainly for the women) tent, but there are also a  photography exhibit celebrating the relations between the two countries, a massive amount of book collections, mainly regarding Oman and their literary culture (some were in Arabic), artifacts and manuscripts exhibit (most of them are just replicas, including an old copy of a verse of the Qur’an written on a camel bone),Calligraphy demonstation,video playing of Oman tourism, small culinary experience consisting of black, thick Omani coffee and perfumed, spice flavoured Helwas and dates  as well as musical and dance performances.

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Stay tuned for the rest of the articles!

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Qatar Museums’ Pattern Canvas Online App

So I recovered *some* of the Oman exhibit photos from my rapidly deteriorating laptop, and I am desperate to find ways on how to get my photos off it before it goes six feet under. Though I did managed to transfer those photos safely to my external hard drive, then WordPress -or rather, my internet connection,- does not allow them to be uploaded to the blog.

Also, Do you remember the thing I posted about crowdfunding thing? Yeah….it’s not going to happen. apparently us Bruneians don’t deserve crowdfunding. The funding I am only entitled to are interest-laden loan schemes offered by the banks. Goodbye, new computer.

*smh*

Anyway, while waiting for the other photos of the Oman exhibit to come up and be upload-able to the blog, I was lead to yet another fun app on the internet, for you to use for your Islamic Geometric Design needs.

Behold, the Qatar Museums’ Pattern Canvas – Play Designer app. Whew, that’s a mouthful. Please click on the photo to access the app.

patterncanvasplaydesigner

What you have here is an offering from the Qatar Museums that allows you to play with a number of geometric shapes – namely triangle, square, circle and diamond – and arrange them on a blank canvas to create a diverse, kaleidoscopic designs of geometrical beauty, or chaos, whichever you choose.

You are offered a number of tools to help you create your masterpieces. You can choose from six different colours for the borders of the shape and the shape themselves, the thickness (or absence of) the borders of the shapes, reflections (or symmetry, as we geometry lovers would have referred to) of the shapes ranging from two to eight reflections, as well as a slider to control the size of the shapes you would like them to appear on the canvas.

While you are drawing on the canvas, you can freeze the shapes drawn on the canvas with a click of the mouse. Unfortunately you cannot choose whether your next pattern can be overlaid on top of the previous drawing or be combined with it – it is always the former. Too bad because it will create a plethora of patterns just with that small little detail.

It is not as robust and as interesting as the Taprats java app I introduced some time ago, but it is a nice distraction and a simple way to create patterns – which, somehow in my case, looks vaguely Islamic, but more of a psychedelic, 60’s 70’s inspired mandala designs, what with all that striking in your face colours.

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One of my patterns made with the app. Rather bland, I must say

While you play around with the app, please allow me to rummage through my storage for my Oman photos. It is got to be somewhere…

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Happy New Year 2016!

Wow.

A whole year of no posting whatsoever.

My laptop recently went belly flop literally, so I was without any means of writing in this blog except for my phone. I am currently typing this on my work computer, so it is not ideal…

And with the passing of my laptop, so did my collection of photos I meant to post on this blog – remember the Omani exhibit I meant to show you at the end of 2014? Yup, all burned and gone. *sigh*. I am still finding ways to recover them, I am very close to that. So expect to see those in a few weeks – or months- time.

I the meantime, I had changed the look of the blog for a grey and white palette, so I hope you like the colour scheme! Also, I am thinking of setting up a fundraising page so I can get a new decent computer and perhaps help me with my trip to Istanbul next year? If I get there I promise you there will be a whole lot of content available to you, my readers! I also, in anticipation of the Istanbul trip, make another blog based solely on travel (I have been on some work funded trips) What do you think? Should I set up a Gofundme account? I hope thats not much to ask.

Till then, see you later.

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Happy New Year 2015

It is already five days into 2015 but I hope it is not too late to wish you, my readers, a happy and joyous new year. I wish you another 360 days worth of happiness and peace ahead.

I haven’t had done anything much this past week. I was trying to finish up my school work before my finals this mid-January. The internet connection is horrible; trying to post anything on this blog is a hit and miss as so many time I tried to post, the connection dropped suddenly and I am greeted with a ‘page not found’ page. and then I have to get back to the Add New Post page with absolutely nothing on it, I have to rewrite it, try to repost it, back to the same ‘page not found’ page, repeat the process.

I returned to work today, hoping for a better, faster connection, but I am greeting with excruciatingly slow and lagging internet. Am I doomed to the repetitive process of retyping and reposting again? We shall see.

I hope I can post something before my upcoming finals, especially about the Omani art and architecture I had the chance to attend to last year. Let’s hope this internet connection can actually post pictures with the articles…

Once again, Happy New Year 2015

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