Parts of the Omani khanjar (dagger)
List of khanjar parts
The khanjar knife itself consists of:
· Handle with its decorative and support elements.
· Decorative ferrule strengthening the joint between blade and handle.
The khanjar handle is connected to the blade (Naslah) with the joint between them surrounded by a decorative ferrule.
The shape and decorative detail of khanjar handles is a key element in distinguishing the different types of khanjars from different regions and Governates of the Sultanate.
Various raw and synthetic materials are used in making khanjar handles. They are divided into two categories according to the quality and value of the handle.
The first category comprises natural materials that are rare in part due to bans on trading them
· Rhinoceros horn handle, locally known as ‘zaraf’ (giraffe).
· Elephant Tusk handle.
· Sandalwood handle.
Because of the paucity of access to new materials for rhinoceros handle and elephant tusk handle, some khanjar craftsmen buy old khanjars in order to use their now rare handles in making new ones.
khanjar craftsmen have also started using the alternative and more easily available materials in the second category.
Alternative materials that have become accepted for creating khanjar handles include:
· Bitter Orange wood, locally known as ‘khashab al nareng’.
· White plastic, which when treated well can look very similar to elephant tusk handle.
Examples of different types of handle material are shown in .
The broad curved blade (naslah) of khanjar is made from steel sharpened on both edges. The curve of the khanjar blade results in the tip pointing around 30 degrees to the handle. The curved broad blade offers leverage. The blade has a pronounced symmetric spine (silan) on both sides to reinforce it. This follows the centreline of the blade from the short tang scabbard mouth almost to the tip (badrah) of the blade.
The ferrule (tooq) surrounds the handle covering the section in which the blade is embedded in the handle
Scabbard upper cover (sader)
Known locally as sader, the scabbard upper cover covers and reinforces the opening of the scabbard for the khanjar blade and provides one of the important aesthetic decorative elements of the khanjar. The scabbard upper cover is decorated with silver carvings of Omani design. Their ornate engravings of different forms and decorations of scabbard upper covers characterise and distinguish different khanjar. For example, the al tikasir inscription is used for the Al Saidi khanjar, and the al qala design is used for other types of Omani khanjars.
The engravings on the upper scabbard cover match the engravings on the ferrule and chape. The upper scabbard cover (sader) and the ferrule of the knife (tooq) form a functional and aesthetic pair.
Examples of upper scabbard cover
The upper scabbard cover forms a cap covering the open end of the scabbard with an opening, the scabbard mouth (Al Mogaraq), to match the blade ().
Wooden scabbard core (Shohf)
The scabbard core is made from wood to hold the khanjar blade. The shape of the wooden scabbard echoes and emphasises the curved shape of the khanjar blade. Whereas the khanjar blade is curved by around 30 degrees, the khanjar scabbard is often curved to almost 90 degrees.
The hollow scabbard is made from two pieces of wood (shohf) carved as a pair and glued together.
Carved hollow wooden scabbard core after gluing and ready to have other elements attached
Belt Holder (Tems)
It is a rectangular ribbon made of leather located in the middle of the khanjar and it is found under the scabbard upper cover. The leather is usually made of cow skin. Locally known “hizaq”, this item is important as it helps to hold the belt.
Once it has been installed on the scabbard, the belt holder is covered on the outside with a silver plate. After that, the tops of the two rings are installed opposite each other. The other two rings have pyramid shapes at the end of the belt holder, which is locally known under three names, as Al Khizaim, Tiars, Emama, and this type of rings can only be found on the Al Saidi and Al Nizwani khanjars.
In the end, the khanjar maker makes the final touch to finish the last step to complete of the belt holder by installing silver wire and passing it around this area. Locally known as “sim”, it is installed in a professional manner on the both the front and back-side of this area to give an aesthetic touch to the khanjar. This wire is made of twisted silver wire.
Final looks of the belt holder
Final looks of the belt holder with side view
Scabbard Cover (Qita’a):
The khanjar scabbard (qita’a) cover fits over the wooden scabbard core. It is asymmetric, that is, it is different front and back. The front face of the scabbard cover provides the foundation for ornate decoration. The scabbard cover has a curved crescent-shape to match the wooden scabbard core. The front of the scabbard cover is typically made of sheepskin decorated with sewing in a variety of forms and motifs (see ). It is locally referred to as sim or eias, and the front face of the scabbard cover is typically decorated by sewing silver or mixed silver and gold colour wire or sometimes nylon with the decorations different depending on the type of khanjar.
Visually, khanjar makers and experts regard the leather front of the scabbard cover being divided into three parts ):
The rear of the scabbard cover, which remains concealed from view when worn, is covered with a soft brushed broadcloth cloth known locally as Bitan (see ) made from fabric which is a type of velvet.
The chape is a silver piece and forms the final part of the curve in the khanjar, coming on after the scabbard cover, and also serves as the final cover for the lower part of the scabbard.
To give final touches to the beauty of the khanjar, the chape usually has inscriptions matching the scabbard upper cover and ferrule. The designs are engraved in the Al Tikasir style or Al Qala style based on the type of khanjar.
Final looks of the chape
The Basic Accessories in the Omani khanjar:
It is a two-piece accessory separated from each other and made of leather – natural or artificial – with one piece longer than the other, and sewn with beautiful engravings of silver wires mixed with gold-coloured wires mixed with "nylon wire" in some khanjars. The longer part of the belt is known locally as Hezaq and the shorter part as Tabligha.
The belt works to help the person wear the khanjar, while the role of the Binnao is to adjust the belt depending on the size of the wearer.
Side view of how to lock the belt
Close-up view of a small part of the belt
Stud (Razah or Fatkhah)
It is a decorated circular silver piece that is similar to a clothing button. It is linked from the back with two wires that can be folded. The khanjar maker inserts the wires of the stud inside a small hole located at the end of the belt, and then he folds the two wires in opposite directions and fixes them at the tips of the belt from both sides.
Final looks of the stud
There are two studs on each part of the belt, one of which fixes the belt to the two rings on each side of the belt holder, while the other stud holds the belt with belt buckles or baldric (that will be mentioned later).
Location of the studs on the khanjar
Belt Buckle (Bazeem)
It is a semi-circular silver piece that has simple design; it is fixed in the short part of the belt and held by the stud.
Final looks of the belt buckle
Location where the belt buckle attaches to the belt
It is a piece of leather that is fixed to the longest part of the belt by using the stud and it has many holes for various waist size measurements.
Final looks of the baldric
Location where the baldric attaches to the belt
The Secondary Accessories in the Omani khanjar:
It is a piece of leather that looks like a small wallet. A silver piece with Omani inscriptions is fixed on the front side of the wallet and has the same inscriptions of the scabbard upper cover to complete the aesthetic side of the khanjar. It is also fixed on the short part of the belt. In the past people used the wallet to keep coins inside it but nowadays it is used as an accessory only, and this kind of wallet is found mostly in the Al Suri khanjar.
Final looks of the wallet
Location where the wallet attaches to the belt
It is a pointed copper or silver piece connected to a short chain and fixed on the longest part of the belt. Previously it was used to remove tiny pieces of thorn that get into the hands or feet but now it is used as an accessory, and can be found mostly in the Al Nizwani, Al Batini and Al Suri khanjars.
Final looks of the tweezers
Eyeliner and holder (Merwad and Mikehal)
It has two pieces: firstly eyeliner known locally as Marwad, and secondly a holder known locally as Mikehal made of silver. The eyeliner is not sharp (so that it does not cause harm to the eye), while the holder looks like a bullet and has a cover on top of it. The two pieces are linked with a small chain and fixed on the longer part of the belt, and can be found mostly in the Al Nizwani and Al Suri khanjars.
Final looks of the eyeliner
Location where the eyeliner attaches to the belt
It is a small knife that has a silver handle. Usually it has some Omani inscription designs and kept inside a wallet made of leather. The knife is attached to the back of the scabbard upper cover by using a small silver wire, and fixed in a curved angle in which its handle appears from the right side of the khanjar, and can be found mostly in the Al Nizwani and Al Suri khanjars.
Final looks of the knife
Location where the knife attaches to the back of the khanjar
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