Khanjar

A khanjar (Arabic: خنجر‎, Persian: خنجر‎‎, Turkish: Hançer) is a traditional dagger originating from Oman. Worn by men for ceremonial occasions, it is a short curved sword shaped like the letter "J" and resembles a hook. It can be made from a variety of different materials, depending on the quality of its craftsmanship. It is a popular souvenir among tourists and is sold in souqs throughout the region. A national symbol of the sultanate, the khanjar is featured on the country's national emblem and on the Omani rial. It is also utilized in logos and commercial imagery by companies based in Oman.

Country Name Origin Year
Oman (Muscat) 1672

Depending on the quality of its craftsmanship, the Omani khanjar can be made using a variety of different metals and other materials. Gold or silver would be used to make khanjar of the finest quality (e.g. for royalty), while brass and copper would be utilized for daggers made by local craftsmen. For instance, a sheath adorned with gold was historically limited to the Omani upper class. Traditionally, the dagger is designed by its future owner himself, with the craftsman taking into account the "specifications" and "preferences" stipulated by the former. The time it takes to manufacture a khanjar can range from three weeks to several months.

The most elemental sections of the khanjar are its handle and blade, with the material utilized in the former playing a significant role influencing the final price of the dagger. Bone – specifically rhinoceros horn and elephant tusk – was once the common standard, as it was "considered the best material" to make the hilt out of. However, with the international ban on the ivory trade, the usage of other materials – such as wood, plastic, and camel bone – has become more prevalent. Typically, the top of the hilt is flat, but the one designed for the royal family is in the shape of a cross.

Although it is not known when the Omani khanjar was first created, rock carvings epitomizing the dagger were found on gravestones located in the central part of the Ru’us al Jibal region. These are believed to have predated the Wahhabi revival, which occurred in the late 1700s. They were also mentioned in an account by Robert Padbrugge of the Dutch Republic, who journeyed to Muscat in June 1672. Historically, only men from the royal family could wear the khanjar. However, all civilian men were permitted to do so after 1970, the year when Qaboos bin Said al Said – the current Sultan of Oman – overthrew his father Said bin Taimur and began to institute reforms to modernize the country.

End notes