The Arab world has always been famous for its weapons. Swords and daggers, are no longer in use as weapons, but in the Arab world they are still popular as ceremonial ornaments—especially the khanjar, the famous curved Arab dagger.
The khanjar, with its layers of silver and gold and its gem-studded scabbard, is often the most striking part of a man’s attire at formal dinners, weddings or important civic or military events. Khanjar, Arabic for dagger, can vary in size, style, and design according to Oman’s different regions – not to mention the price.
Khanjar is piece of art that capture the soul of Oman, symbol of manhood, courage and tradition. The curve of the Omani dagger distinguishes it from daggers elsewhere. The sheath has a right angle bend. It’s ornate work is among the finest in Arabia.
It can take up to a month to make a quality khanjar and craftsmen adhere to the regional designs handed down from generation to generation. An Omani dagger consists of three parts the hilt, the sheath and the blade.
The khanjar comes in three basic styles or designs – the Sa’idiyah, Dakhliyah (Omaniyah) and Sharqiyah (Suriyah), but they have numerous variations derived from personal choice and contemporary trends. The Sa’idiyah khanjar has a narrow hilt and is the largest and most expensive, while the Dakhliyah khanjar has a very wide handle and a sheath of ivory or horn worked with silver. Variations such as the one called Nizwa use a silver T-shaped hilt while the Sur khanjars are smaller in size and use gold instead. Some are finer than others.
The khanjar is a distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the waist. Shal, a long strip of cloth acts as a holder for the khanjar. Belts also used to support Khanjar, of locally made webbing, sometimes interwoven with silver thread or belts of leather covered by finely woven silver wire with handsome silver buckles, and a knife with an ornate handle of silver thread is often stuck into a simple leather pouch behind the sheath.
The more expensive sheaths are of woven gold thread or a combination of gold and silver. But there are also the simpler ones made of plain leather with some silver worked into it. The mark of a good sheath are its inlaid silver rings – the maximum is seven rings of which two are used to hold the belt and five through which strands of thread are woven as ornamentation. There is no special significance attached to the number of rings on a khanjar, It depends on personal preference, but it is a status symbol as the rings are expensive and usually a wealthy wearer sports seven rings. The blade of a khanjar is also an indication of its worth; old blades are never discarded but worked into a new one.
Once worn in self-defence, today, the khanjar is a fashion accessory and a prestige item much in demand.