Janbiya, also spelled janbia, jambiya, and jambia (Arabic: جنبية‎ janbīyah), is the Arabic term for dagger, but it is generally used to describe a specific type of dagger with a short curved blade and a medial ridge. Though the term janbiya is used in various Arab countries and India, it is most closely associated with the people of Najran in Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. It is also prevalent among Muslim men in the Horn of Africa (primarily the Afars of Djibouti). Men typically above the age of 14 wear it as an accessory to their clothing. In Oman the janbiya is commonly referred to as a khanjar.

Country Name Origin Year
Yemen 1600
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Yemen View

Janbiya were taken by travelers to other cultures including Persia, the Ottoman empire, and India, were they adopted with slight differences to the blade, hilt and scabbard.

The hilt or handle

A significant part of a janbiya is its hilt (handle). The saifani hilt is made of rhinoceros horn, which can cost up to $1500 per kilogram, it is used on the daggers of wealthier citizens. Different versions of saifani hilts can be distinguished by their colour. Other janbiya hilts are made of different types of horn, wood, metal and ivory from Elephants and walrus. Apart from the material used for the hilt, the design and detail is a measure of its value and the status of its owner.

Blade, sheath and belt

The double edged blade of the janbiya is constructed of steel which in some cases is damascus or wootz steel. The blade is stored in a sheath, usually made of wood covered with metal or cloth. The sheath can be decorated with various ornaments that signify status. These include silver work, semi-precious stones, and leather. The sheath can be fixed to a leather belt, which is normally 2–3 inches wide. The belt is usually worn around the lower abdomen. There are often other items attached to this belt, such as a silver purse for containing money and change.

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