National/Traditional Wear – Men
The national dress for Omani men is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha. The colour most frequently worn is white, although a variety of other colours such as black, blue, brown and lilac can also be seen. Its main adornment is a tassel (furakha) sewn into the neckline, which can be impregnated with perfume. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men may wear a variety of head dresses. The mussar (turban) is a square of finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in detail. Some men carry the assa, a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events. Omani men, on the whole, wear sandals on their feet.
The curved dagger, the khanjar is a distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the waist. The shape of the khanjar is always the same and is characterised by the curve of the blade and by the near right- angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may vary from simple covers to ornate silver or gold-decorated pieces of great beauty and delicacy. In the past the silver khanjars were made by melting down Marie Theresa silver coins. Different types of khan jars are named after the regions in which they are made and vary according to size, shape, type of metal and the overlay.
Traditional Dress – Women
Omani women have very colourful costumes which vary from region to region. The main components of a woman’s outfit comprise of a dress which is worn over trousers (sirwal) and the headdress, called the lihaf. There are numerous traditional styles of Omani costume seen in Muscat. However, there are three main types which show vibrant colours, embroidery and decorations. One style of costume is rather flowing and resembles that worn by the women of the Interior, while another is decorated with distinctive silver bands.
The jewellery worn by Omani women is fashioned mainly from gold, although the traditional metal was silver. Work is very intricate and elaborate patterns and symbols, even Quranic calligraphy, is engraved into the metal.Traditional footwear was a type of platform shoe made from wood called the qurhaf. However, most women now wear sandals or Western-style fashion shoes. Omani women have used natural cosmetics and beauty preparations for centuries and despite the supply of brand name cosmetics sold in department stores and supermarkets, the traditional products are still available at souqs all over the Sultanate.
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