Mandoos (wooden chest)

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Country: Oman

Omanis have utilized the abundance and variety of trees in the Sultanate to make a number of objects such as doors, windows, and the mandoos. The mandoos industry is one of the famous traditional Omani crafts, especially in Al dakhiliya region; it is made of very hard wood imported from India. The mandoos, especially those tailored for the rich, is made of the best kind of wood and decorated with marvellous carved or inscribed ornamental designs, and ornamented with silver or brass sheets and star designs.

The mandoos has different uses. It is used by women for keeping clothes, jewellery and other valuables, while men use it for keeping clothes, weapons and khanjars. It has great importance in the daily life of the Omanis, especially on certain occasions such as weddings, as it is used as part of the trousseau, with a secret pocket for keeping jewellery.

The Omani mandoos is rich with features of originality, embodied in its local decorations in the form of forts and castles, pictures or designs of Arabian ships and the Omani Khanjar. The mandoos was used in ancient times by sailors in their long sea journeys for keeping their personal belongings and navigation maps and sketches. The essential materials used in making the mandoos are wood, brass, copper nails, hinges, polishing varnish and locks. (Dorothy Bonflilin:1988: 32)

The Mandoos is made of very expensive wood, such as sandal and Saj wood (Tectona spp.), as well as Sidr (Ziziphus spina), Qart (Acacia nilotica), Almees (Celtis australis) and Alfarfar wood. Currently, it is also made of plywood. However, sandal and Saj wood have no equal among other kinds of wood in the Mandoos craft, in terms of quality and strength. The Mandoos may last for 150 years, and every time it is repainted, it looks beautiful and shining. (Public Authority of Crafts industries: 2014:136).

Further reading

Dorothy, Bonflilin. 1988. A study on Omani Traditional crafts, Translated by Ahmed Alzain Hassan, Muscat.

Public Authority of Crafts Industries. 2014. Omani crafts: a documentary study. Oman, First edition.

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