Pearl Diving In the Gulf Of Arabia
For lots of of years, pearls originating from the Arabian Gulf have been recognized as one of many worlds’ most interesting gemstones. In the mid 1800’s, the lion’s share of the inhabitants surrounding the Arabian Gulf have been indirectly related to the native pearl industry. The core of the Gulf’s pearl business was positioned on the island of Bahrain: “Gulf fisheries employ about three,500 boats, large and small, of which 1,200 of one of the best are owned at Bahrain…” (The Guide of the Pearl: G.F. Kunz 1908). A typical crew on a Bahrainian boat, referred to as a ‘Dhow’ or ‘Sambuk,’ that fished for pearl oysters included:
o The ‘Nokhadha’ (Captain): The captain was normally the proprietor of the boat, an skilled fisherman with data of all spaccio stone island waters and the perfect pearling banks.
o The ‘Al-Mejaddimi’ (Second-In-Command): Accountable for maintaining the captain’s rule.
o The ‘Al-Musally’ (Prayer Leader): A religious determine, much like a chaplain in the military.
o The ‘Nahham’ (Singer): In command of singing pearling songs and chants to maintain the crew’s spirits up and to convey luck.
o The ‘Saib’ (Diver’s Top-Man): Performing a important job, they stayed top-aspect monitoring the lifeline connected between boat and diver.
o The ‘Tabbabah’ (Apprentice): Deck fingers who carried out all manner of duties at other crew member’s behest.
o The ‘Ghawwas’ (pearl diver).
The life of a Bahranian pearl diver was harsh. Even before leaving dwelling for the pearling season between April and September, most pearl divers were already in debt; compelled to borrow cash from their captains to make sure their households survival whereas they were away diving. Even if their dives had been fruitful and the harvest excessive, thus effacing their debts, the diver’s still needed to weather the following six months till the diving season started once more. The entire crew’s existence on board was frugal to say the least; living off a weight loss plan of dates, fish, rice and espresso. Nonetheless, it was the divers who suffered most; apart from overexertion and malnourishment, they faced the daily menace of shark assault, and lengthy-time period neural diseases attributable to inadequate supplies of oxygen to the brain throughout prolonged submergences.
The diving strategies employed on these boats had remained rudimentary, unchanged since diving for pearls had first began. Once moored off the oyster beds, all the pieces revolved across the ‘Ghawwas’ and their ‘Saib.’ A ‘Saib’ actually held the diver’s life in his fingers, for if he did not pull the diver up fast sufficient, the diver would drown. The ‘Ghawwas’ dove in 15 minute shifts, and in that time made not less than eight visits to the sea bed thirty to forty feet down. They sank to backside helped by a rope weighted with a stone, carrying a nose clip known as a ‘Fetatn,’ leather-based gloves called a ‘Khabat’ to protect in opposition to sharp coral and a ‘Dayyeen’ internet basket hung around their neck. After the divers resurfaced the oysters have been piled on deck, left to dry out and opened; whether or not the oysters contained pearls was a matter of pure likelihood. Up to a complete week, and 1000’s of oysters, could move by the crew’s arms with out a single pearl being found. Then again, just a few hours of diving could consequence in the mom-load. Nevertheless and at any time when they got here to the floor the pearls, referred to as ‘Lulu,’ always ended up within the captain’s crimson cloth pouch.
The captain would money in his pearl harvest with the native ‘Tawwash,’ or pearl vendor, who would visit the boat to purchase the pearls after which resell onto larger merchants. Once the captain had acquired the money, he paid every crew member based on their hierarchy, the biggest share going to the captain and the boat. Arabian dialects used around the Gulf number a variety of phrases for pearl: ‘Lulu’, ‘Dana’, ‘Hussah’, ‘Gumashah.’ Then there are the names to explain a pearl’s form and shade: ‘Sujani’, pear-shaped drop; ‘Khaizi,’ excessive domed upper half with a half rounded bottom; ‘Adasi,’ rounded cylinder with flat sides and ‘Majhoolah,’ a large ugly pearl that may conceal a finer pearl inside. Extraordinary expertise and tolerance was needed to take away the thin layers of a ‘Majhoolah:’ a process that might take weeks. Of all of the pearls that a crew hoped to see was the ‘Jiwan,’ meaning young, which was the right rose-tinted white, round pearl with pure luster. Gulf pearls had been, and nonetheless are to today, sorted and graded utilizing a sequence of sieves known as ‘Gurbaai.’ Pearls are weighed utilizing an historic complicated unit of weight called a ‘Chow,’ one carat equals zero.6518 ‘Chow.’
The buying of pearls generally revolved round a system of silent bidding, the place a dealer who does not need others present to know what worth he is providing, will cover his and his shopper’s clasped palms with a cloth indicating the quantity with a system of finger signals. From Bahrain, the pearls had been bought to Indian merchants, who sent them to Bombay to be drilled by hand. From there the pearls have been sold to Europeans, whose thirst for Arabian Gulf pearls was unquenchable.