Heritage


Khanjar (Dagger): Truly "Iconic" Omani emblem


Muscat Festival 2013. Photo - Sultana Kamal / Times of Oman

Muscat: The khanjar is truly an "iconic" Omani emblem. The Omani 'khanjar' is the traditional, defensive dagger worn on a belt by Omani men as a symbol of authority. Civic dignitaries, government officials, scholars, religious clergy, and VIPs wear khanjar as a class symbol. It also appears on the flag of Oman, as part of the national emblem.
 
Muscat Festival 2013. Photo - Sultana Kamal / Times of Oman

"Khanjar is a very valuable hand-made symbol. It is used not only as a type of formal dress item but also for stylistic purposes," Ghulam Mohammad Saleh, a retired Omani major, explained to Times of Oman during a visit to the crafts industries section of Muscat Festival in Al Amerat Park. He added that drawing the khanjar from its sheath is a social taboo and men would only do that if they sought revenge or self-defence.
 
Muscat Festival 2013. Photo - Sultana Kamal / Times of Oman

Khanjar plays an important role in the country's iconography, alongside the famous Omani straight 'Sayf'(Arabic for sword) and curved swords. The Omani khanjar comprises several parts including the blade, hilt, scabbard, belt and other accouterments.  
 
Muscat Festival 2013. Photo - Sultana Kamal / Times of Oman

It is a significant part of formal dress for men. In the past, men used to wear it on a daily basis. However, today it is mainly worn on special occasions like weddings, Eid, and funerals. Some parents present khanjar to their sons when they reach puberty as a sign of manhood and to preserve the tradition.
 
The Omani khanjar is distinct from other types of daggers used elsewhere in the world due to its precious hilts and artistic designs that are made of silver. It also symbolizes the earliest Omani culture and proficiency of the Omani crafts inherited through generations.
 
Today some of the young Omanis may not wear khanjar as fondly as their ancestors used to wear, but it is really hard to deny the immense historic value of the Omani khanjar.
 
Many Omanis believe that it is high time to defend the traditions of the nation and preserve it for generations to come. Whatever the fashion urges, khanjar will always remain an esteemed possession for Omani men that symbolizes the prestige of the Sultanate and its people. For more details, please contact: skamal@timesofoman.com

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