A curious caravanserai of notoriety and nonsense, poetry and prophecy.

“Frankincense & Other Stuff About Oman,” excerpted from the Traz World Factbook

oozy Mughsayl (black) frankincense from the coastal mountains west of Salalah, Oman’s monsoon region. This particular frankincense is characterized by the area’s high humidity and proximity to the sea.

1) We made bread the other day and I freaked out because we had no ziplocks or tinfoil and just left the second half of the loaf out on the counter overnight.  At breakfast I made fried eggs and toast.  The bread was not stale AT ALL.  Because this is a desert, so there is no humidity.  No wonder nobody closes the WonderBread bag with those little plastic teeth things and grocery stores don’t sell ziplocks!

2) Almost 100% of the world’s frankincense is grown on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Horn of Africa, primarily in Oman and Yemen, as well as Ethiopia and Somalia.  It has been traded by Omani Empires throughout the Mediterranean, East Africa and Indian Ocean for over 500 years (Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt was buried surrounded by the “bitter perfume” of Omani frankincense, for instance, in 1458 B.C.E., and obviously the Three Wise men brought frankincense (along with gold and myrrh) as gifts to the baby Jesus.

Map of the world's frankincense producing regions

Map of the world’s frankincense producing regions

In any case, frankincense is EVERYWHERE here. I often come home from work and cannot even see into the house because it is completely filled with the white smoke (Maliha and Saumen like to burn it at night).  At first this was a little off-putting, but I’m beginning to like being surrounded by the smell all the time. It feels very regal!  Send me a message if you want me to bring some home for you!

Different colors have slightly different fragrances and quality

Different colors have slightly different fragrances and quality

The more I think about it. frankincense is really conceptually beautiful. It is formed by making cuts every few weeks in the bark of Boswellia trees during the dry season.  The resin that oozes out and hardens to heal the bark forms small “stones” of sap, the incense that we burn.  From the natural healing process of a scraggly, unimpressive little tree, the most coveted perfume in the history of the world is produced.

2 Responses to ““Frankincense & Other Stuff About Oman,” excerpted from the Traz World Factbook”

  1. Robin Travers

    I would love some frankincense. It looks like golden raisins. XOX, M


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