Exploring historical ties between Italy and Oman through the the history of incense and its trade: this is the aim of the exhibition ‘Incēnsum’. The exhibition is organized by the Per Fumum Association and the Omani National Museum with the support of the Embassy of Italy in Muscat. 

The inauguration of 'Incēnsum'  with Ambassador Favi and prince Kamil Al Said
The inauguration of ‘Incēnsum’ with Ambassador Favi and prince Kamil Al Said

The exhibition is hosted by the Omani National Museum, in Muscat, where it will remain open until March 6. The inauguration took place on 2 December last, in the presence of the Italian ambassador, Federica Favi, and Omani prince Kamil Al Said

The exhibition is inspired by the deep meaning of incense – explained curator Roberta Conzato, who for the occasion also created a perfume based on frankincense, myrrh and rose – Precious like gold, in Roman times Incēnsum was used in temples for the sacrificial offering, connecting the earthly world with the sacred, and was appreciated by the imperial court and the aristocracy. It has also become a symbol of sacred kingship in Christianity“.

Roberta Conzato, curator of the exhibition
Roberta Conzato, curator of the exhibition

Jamal Hassan Al Moosawi, Secretary General of the National Museum commented: ” The exhibition ‘Incēnsum’ embodies the historical value of the frankincense tree, as it represents a bridge to communicate with the civilizations of the ancient world, where the trade convoys moved on different paths. Long-distance trade in frankincense was ongoing by the 3rd millennium BCE and included links to Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley Civilization and ancient Egypt. In recognition of the importance of the frankincense trade across the ages, four sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list: Al-Baleed, Khor Rori (Sumhuram), Shisr (Ubar)e Wadi Dawkah.” 

The exhibition includes precious collections from Italy and the magnificent Omani finds of millenary tradition in the Land of Frankincense Gallery, highlighting the continuity over the centuries of relations between the two countries and those touched by the ancient caravan routes that guaranteed the trade of the exquisite resin and aromatic spices for Western cuisine. 

oman, an exhibition on incense

The exhibition was deliberately organized by the Embassy of Italy in conjunction with the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World. As Ambassador Favi explained, “the Incēnsum Exhibition will shed light on the connection between the pleasure of the senses and the aroma of incense, with the scents of Italian cuisine, appreciated all over the world, thus ideally reuniting with the themes of Expo 2020 where the Omani pavilion, with the frankincense tree, dialogues with the ideal of beauty illustrated in the Italian pavilion”. 

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation financed the initiative as part of supporting the promotion abroad of the cultural and historical dimension of our cuisine.