October 28, 2011

Nizwa: A Photo Essay

Folks, I feel a little writing burnt out lately, ha so I thought I would indulge in a photo-essay this time round with photos being the mainstay of this post...of course, I wouldn't be able to resist providing a little commentary/captions for the pictures but on the whole, the images will be doing the talking this time round.

A bit about Nizwa, though. Nizwa was a former capital of Oman and is situated in the hinterland, in the proximity of the Hajar mountain-ranges. Apart from being famous for its distinctive circular fort, which happens to be Oman's most visited monument,  it's also regionally renowned for its antique silver jewelry and other items and quality of silver workmanship. The Friday animal auction at the Nizwa souk, or bazaar, which is situated in the heart of the city, is also quite an experience, animals' cries punctuating the air as transactions are quickly and astutely conducted. Afterward, the successful buyers place their purchases in the back of their Toyota pick-up vehicles and one glimpses the goats or cow placidly snacking upon a sprig of fodder as they journey to their new homes. 

I took these images as winter was approaching in Oman and I still cannot help but gush over the sheer clarity and brilliance of the almost-winter light. The light thoroughly drenches the images and there is such a palpable feeling of freshness and vitality in them that one feels as if the moments captured are - still - very much happening...

Here is Nizwa as seen through my lens:

My kingdom: This gentleman radiates a regalesque aura as he surveys the proceedings, firmly gripping his scepter-like walking stick; the animal auction is on full-swing in the background and as for his goat charges: newly purchased or shortly to be sold? They wear as mysteriously inscrutable expressions as that of their owner
Talking shop over a goat: The animal auction starts around 7am on Friday morning and wraps up by noon, the caravan of goats, cows, bulls, and even, the occasional camels having departed for their new homes by then

Green-alert: The souk also sells fresh produce grown nearby; I like the way the green of the hedges' sunlit leaves mirrors that of the bananas in the box. And writing on the wall never fails to intrigue me...
Welcome: Omani doors or babs are particularly known for their wood detailing, which have many Indian design influences; however, I find the metal ones equally interesting with their designs and colors

Modernity and tradition conversing: In a sense, this image very much encapsulates the essence of contemporary Oman what with the juxtaposition of the ancient and  new. The mud walls form part of the old Nizwa souk, which the government has now renovated and refurbished. I thought the little boy dressed in the dish-dasha and typical Omani embroidered cap, kumma, added a further layer to the picture

Sleeping Structures: These decades-old mud structures built in the traditional fashion are located behind the souk; they are largely abandoned though, their former inhabitants preferring to live in concrete bungalows upon the outskirts of Nizwa. The shuttered windows indeed seem asleep, oblivious to the changes swirling around them

Langurous Shadows: The afternoon is spent, the shadows lengthen, and who knows what lies around the corner...

I will look forward to hearing what you thought of the photo-essay...

** Minutes after posting the above, I stumbled upon this post which basically talks about the Delhi Photo Festival. I really identified with much of the writer's well-articulated thoughts vis a vis photography and the terribly blurred lines between what constitutes as art or not. It is definitely an inspiration for a future post about my thoughts on what photography means to me...

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