Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wadi Dawkah: Land of the Frankincense

Wadi Dawkah is a natural park in Dhofar Region bearing copious growth of frankincense trees (Boswellia Sacra). It is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Wadi Dawkah is a protected stretch of over one thousand frankincense trees situated about 40 kilometer north of Salalah.

The landscape of Wadi Dawkah, Dhofar Region, Oman

The precious sap from these trees brought Oman great wealth throughout history and increased its connections with other nations as the fragrance was traded as far away as Europe and China.

Wadi Dawkah stretches over the wadi (dry riverbed) approximately 4kilometer from northwest to southeast. Additional frankincense trees are being planted in Wadi Dawkah, in an effort to increase the tree population.

Boswellia sacra tree from which frankincense resin is obtained

The trunk of Boswellia sacra tree

The usual time of harvest starts in April as soon as the temperatures start to soar. The frankincense gatherer makes several incisions in the trunk of a tree. The first slash is to strip the outer bark of the branches and trunk. This causes a milky white fluid to ooze from the tree which quickly solidifies. It is left in this condition for 14 days or more. The second slash after the stripping period, produces a resin of inferior quality but the real harvest starts two weeks after the second slash. The third incision is the penultimate; it is at this instance when the tree produces frankincense resin of yellowish color which is sold commercially in the market.

Frankincense resin dripping from the tree

Harvesting the precious resin lasts for 3 months. The average yield of frankincense resin for one tree is around 10 kilos. The Governorate of Dhofar produces approximately 7,000 tones of frankincense annually.

The frankincense from Oman is considered to be the finest quality which garners high demand in many countries. Frankincense is an important ingredient in the manufacture of incense which is burned on social occasions like nuptials and venerations; it is similarly used in the manufacture of medicines, fragrant, powders, perfumes, and candles.

The aromatic frankincense resins 

Photo credits: Wikipedia 

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