Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Great post, thank you...
I had a couple of these silver-mounted Martinis as wall decoration when I lived in the Gulf (early 1970s). One bought in Mutrah souk and the other from a shop in Al Ain (UAE). Both were ex-British Army examples, cut down. I did see some locals still carrying them especially in the interior, including on camel back, but by then the Lee Enfield .303 was more popular and used by night watchmen etc.
Salaams Colin Henshaw, Indeed they still carry the 303 SMLE (Canad). Occasionally there are 303 black powder Enfields that superceded Martini Henrys and of course nowadays M16s are carried by official government guards. I always thought the big heavy SMLE were just too cumbersome for Omani men but they more or less adopted it from its inception and even a few pre WW1 jobs turn up.
The Bedu have a peculiar way of carrying the Martini Henry(and other rifles) which they sling upside down under one arm from the shoulder. In fact, this is really comfortable especially on a camel where the too and fro of the camel movement would otherwise have the weapon thumping up and down on the beast.. Another odd adaption is the gun bag made from goat leather which keeps all the dust off the weapon. It is also notable that they continue even today to carry the old silver powder flasks (talahiq) as a mark of tradition even though they are redundant as weapon accessories from a long gun retired many years ago "The Abu Futtilla". (The One with the Match)
All pictures from the "Thesiger" collection (highly recommended to Forum) except the gun (an Enfield) and bag on the floor of my office !
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.