November 26, 2012

0396 OMAN - Mirbat, the place where horses are tethered

Since the very beginning there was a pronounced state of confusion related to this postcard. After several hours of searching and reading, I managed to dispel it to some extent, but not completely. First, Nakhal Fort has nothing to do with the image, as Cresalde claims in the text on the back. Second, the photos of Mirbat Fort that I found on the Internet didn't convinced me that it's about the building in the image, especially that the photo appears to have been made before the reconstruction which took place after the Dhofar Rebellion, during which the fort suffered major damage. Third, Mirbat Fort isn't part of UNESCO World Heritage Site The Land of Frankincense, even if the coastal town of Mirbat had connection with the frankincense trade. These are my conclusions, and if anyone can help me to dispel completely the fog, I would be grateful.

The Arabian Peninsula is usually associated with arid desert landscapes, and while much of Sultanate of Oman falls into this category, the southern region of Dhofar, a rather mountainous area directly exposed to the South East monsoon (the Khareef), is a stark contrast, being covered by a carpet of lush green vegetation. Historically the region was the chief source of frankincense in the world, being ruled by the Kathiri Sultanate, Dhofar Sultanate and Ottoman Empire (1539–1829), before the Omani rule (since 1879). Besides, the Dhofar Liberation Front started a revolt in 1962 against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, which was defeated, with British support, in 1976.

Located at 64 km from Salalah, Mirbat, the ancient capital of the Minjawis, is a coastal town, involved in the export of frankincense in ancient times, to be traded as far as China, but also in the export of arabian horses. The Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta spoke, in the 14th century, about the town of Zafari (al-Baleed), famous for the export of horses to India, but in fact the horses were exported from Mirbat (the word actually means "the place where horses are tethered"). A statue of an Arab horse at full gallop is placed on each side of the road at the entrance to the town to commemorate its past.

Constructed in the 19th century, the Mirbat Fort was the place of one of the last battles in the world that involved conventional attack and defense from a fortress, in1972, during the Dhofar Rebellion. In 1991, the fort was restored.

About the stamps

The two stamps on the postcard are definitives from a set representing the Al-Khanjar A'Suri (that means "the dagger of the state of Sur"):


• red background (50 baiza) - It's on the postcard
• chrome yellow background (80 baiza)
• deep new blue background (100 baiza) - It's on the postcard
• white backgroud (200 baiza)
• green background (250 baiza) - It's on other postcard
• purple background (300 baiza)
• brown background (400 Baisa)

Dhofar Governorate - Wikipedia
Mirbat Fort - Maps of World
Mirbat Fort - Girl solo in Arabia, in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta
A History of Dhofar, by Karen Murdarsi -

Sender: Cresalde Jumbas Victoriano (direct swap)
Sent from Muscat (Oman), on 03.11.2012
Photo: Khamis Al-Moharbi

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