Tuesday, June 10, 2014
An old Arab proverb says of the date palm, “Its feet shall be in a stream of water, and its head in the furnace of Heaven”. The ability of this remarkable palm to thrive in extremely hot and dry conditions with little or no rain has made it the classic symbol of the oasis and a reliable indicator of the presence of groundwater in rocky ravines, crevices and wadis. The date palm is just one species of palm out of the 2,500 different palm species known to mankind. Many of them have a wide and varied range of uses, but it is the date palm, along with coconut and oil palm which have influenced cultural history in such a vivid manner.
No wonder then that the date palm is the most commonly used tree in the Gulf region and represents a cultural association with mankind that can be traced as far back as 4000 BC. Dates were among the first fruit crops to be domesticated in ancient times and had a cultural and religious significance. They have been a staple food in the Gulf region for thousands of years and believed to have originated from Iraq. Their history, recorded over 5,000 years, reflects their economic and social importance. In Muslim tradition, God created the date palm from dust left over after Adam was created and consequently it is often referred to as the ‘Tree of Life’, an appropriate name given its multiplicity of uses.
The date palm has not only shaped human landscapes in the past, but continues to have a significant role in the landscapes of the future. Almost everywhere you look in Oman, you will spot a date palm. Perhaps giving shade to your car, or elegantly lining a long driveway in front of a villa or shopping mall or wrapped up, with barely any roots, and awaiting planting by the roadside. During the period of Ramadhan, when fasting lasts from sunrise to sunset, dates are an excellent and traditional food ideal as a first ‘taste’ once the fast has been broken. The carbohydrates found in dates also make the fruit a slower digesting food, much better than fried or fatty foods which digest fast and leave one hungry for more!
Apart from eating dates, almost all parts of the tree have some sort of use. The shape and graceful habit of the tree has been reflected in architecture and design for thousands of years and still influences our cultural and practical lives today. More recently the wood of the tree trunk has found several uses within the timber industry. Palm tree is a great inspiration to our interior décor; it adds a little bit of tropical hot flavour to any room of your house, including the master bedroom. Whether you want to keep the palm tree décor in just one room of the house or dress up your entire home in all things palm, decorating with palm trees adds a unique touch to your home. Most of the tree parts are used in the decoration process.
The palm’s unique shape is based on the elegance and simplicity of configuration. The long cylindrical trunk holds its head in the semi-spherical mass of leaves. When we add the frequency with which we notice in the elements that make up each frond separately and those that cover the trunk, too, know the extent to which this tree to be a wellspring of inexhaustible art decoration, which is generally the ability of one element of repetition to cover a large area. Palm-used parts in decoration in architecture involve the full tree or parts of them, especially the fronds of a bow which combines natural softness and flow to the area. And berry motifs spread naturally in areas rich in palm cultivation. In Pharaonic Egypt, palm lotus flowers decorated the crowns of massive stone columns that still exist in Luxor.
The buildings in the najdi often find palm carved entirely on traditional wooden doors, and sometimes repeated drawing of one full palm several times. Also in some najdi mud houses, we find repeated triangles in the form of the palm. The decorative elements are based on the architectural details to palm indirectly, inscriptions in the walls, facades, pillars, doors and even furniture. It is interesting that the Arabs are the only ones who were not content with the decoration of the crowns, but used decoration columns with geometric repetition. Palm as a whole are used in buildings — the pillars, brackets and domes. A pattern of building developed on the Mediterranean coast and remained there for centuries.
Monday 09th, June 2014 / 19:03 Written by