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  1. #1
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Amrita's Avatar
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    Post Dubai's Pearly Past....

    Hi! I recently had a chance to visit the Dubai Museum (not the famous pearl museum at NBD!) and was intrigued to see the exhibits about Dubai's pearl diving past.

    It was fascinating to see how not so long ago (the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries) Dubai was a little more than a village that lived on fishing and pearl diving. There was a thriving pearl trade going on in the area during this time. So I thought I'd share the education that I had gained and some pictures of the pearl related exhibits from the Dubai museum with my pearly friends here.

    These two gentlemen are finalising a pearl deal.Pearl dealers, traders and financiers were known as Al Tawashoon....

    The price of a pearl was governed by its color,size and shape as it is today. Pearls were weighed against stones of varying sizes (mithqal and half mithqal). Tools used for grading were called Al Toos and Al Ghrabeel.

    One of the pictures below shows a pearl merchant's chest made of teakwood (I wanted to interperse the pictures with comments, but haven't been able to figure out how yet)
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  2. #2
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Amrita's Avatar
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    During the diving season, which was from May to September each year, pearl divers made three main journeys on their dhows (traditional Arabian boats). The busiest time was the summer, when thousands of men would leave their dhows, with simple tools and provisions, financed by wealthy pearl traders.....

    In the early 20th century there were about 300 pearl diving dhows with over 7000 crew members (including divers) on board. Pearl Beds were called Al Hiraat. Divers made very deep dives in the burning sun of Arabia at the height of summer, wearing only a nose clip and leather finger protectors. They carried with them a basket made of rope. A stone weighing about 5 kg was tied to them to pull them down as also was a rope to pull them up to the surface again. Each diver made about 50 dives a day, each lasting about 3 minutes. A pearl diver would earn between 200 and 300 rupees a year, compared with a pearl trader's average income of 1500 rupees...
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  3. #3
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Amrita's Avatar
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    A few more pictures of the measuring and weighing equipment used in the region during this period.....

    Also some pearly shells...

    Sorry about the quality of the photos...the lighting was not ideal for photography...
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  4. #4
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Amrita's Avatar
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    A "Dhow" at the Dubai Creek today....these kinds of boats were used for pearl diving operations in the past as well...
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  5. #5
    Pearl Collector & Designer Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Sueki's Avatar
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    Wow, Amrita,
    Thanks for this - fascinating. The two gents seem totally unfazed by you taking their photos - the pearls must have been beautiful !
    Don't suppose you bought any......?

  6. #6
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    Very cool. Thanks Amrita

  7. #7
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Hi Amrita - sounds like a great trip you are having.. Thanks for the story.
    Sueki, I think those two gents would be unfazed no matter what you did!!

  8. #8
    Pearl Collector & Designer Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Sueki's Avatar
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    Hahahaha,
    Oh, yes, what an eeejit I am......
    Put it down to senior moments.....

  9. #9
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member MistofCassiopeia's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pics Amrita!

  10. #10
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Pearly Shell's Avatar
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    Cool stuff Amrita! An Al Tawashoon...I like that.
    Donna
    Graduate Gemologist & Pearl Devotee

  11. #11

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    Awesome. Thank you for sharing the pics!!
    Steve and Jacqui
    www.MuseumWayPearls.com
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  12. #12
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member
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    I enjoyed the educational post, Amrita - thanks for taking the time to photograph and give us the story.
    John
    Pearls are for everybody...

  13. #13

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    Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures and the info. From reading some of Caitlin's previous posts, I somehow imagined the dhou as much smaller.
    Drucilla
    Romancing the pearl

  14. #14
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Thanks much, Amrita, wonderful history! I can't find Caitlin's previous posts, but it would be fun if she linked them in here, for those who did not read them before. Her Grandfather owned a dhow, and she is fortunate to have some lovely pearls.
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  15. #15
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert smetzler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drucilla View Post
    From reading some of Caitlin's previous posts, I somehow imagined the dhou as much smaller.
    Initial tongue-in-cheek response would be "if Dubai can call that a creek…"!

    But here is the actual range of dhow sizes, from dubaicity.com:

    Types of dhow:-

    Ghanjah - a large vessel with a curved stem and a sloping, ornately carved transom.
    Baghlah - the traditional deep-sea dhow
    Battil - featured long stems topped by large, club-shaped stem heads
    Badan - a smaller vessel requiring a shallow draught
    Caitlin's grandfather's dhow must have been a Badan.

    Amrita, thanks for the interesting report!
    Last edited by smetzler; 02-06-2009 at 01:34 AM.
    Steve
    ============

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