The present day
As traditions change the objects used traditionally also take on new and different qualities and functions. My research comes at a time when the traditional way of life that framed the khanjar’s use is at a point of profound transition. The last generations of khanjar makers that use traditional ways of making are about to finish and their embodied knowledge will go with them unless action is taken. To learn about the value of the khanjar in the present we have to evoke the uses of the Khanjar in the past and then identify aspects of the contemporary and the modern and frame a relationship between the past and present that can inform the continued value of the khanjar.
Omani culture is still characterised by the valuing of warm welcomes and generous hospitality.
The welcoming and honouring of guests still maintains some Omani customs and traditions. However, the wearing of the khanjar is no longer essential for domestic interaction between family and strangers. It is imperative however for everyone to wear traditional attire complete with the khanjar when receiving official delegations or being part of formal official life.
Omani men welcoming guests
Celebrations of Religious holidays and Social events:
The preparation of holidays and social events in Oman and the celebration of them still retain many of the customs and traditions of Omani people as well as intangible qualities of the ties of kinship among neighbours, friends and families.
The preparations for these celebrations in Oman still manifest in traditional markets or so-called Al Habtah, which remain popular in the various governorates of the Sultanate. A smaller number of attendees go to Al Habtah but men, women and children of all ages still turn up to prepare for the celebration. These days, fathers and grandfathers will diligently buy the sacrificial animal feast. The accessories worn to the feast differ; most will not be wearing the khanjar, but the Omani dishdasha instead. Men will cover their heads with a turban or Omani hat (kumah) for ease of movement in the Al Habtah. Groups of young people will still gather together, although not so eagerly with the elderly as before.
Yang boy wearing khanjar
Yang girls wearing traditional dress
Most of the traditional arts are still practised in all parts of the Sultanate. Some of them are exclusively practised in certain provinces and inherited from grandparents and passed down generations without change. The most famous traditional arts in Oman are the Fisheries arts and Al Razha dances. The Dhofar region is famous for Al Rabobah and Al Bara’a arts. There are also some arts performed by the people of the desert called Al Tariq.
Traditional Omani arts men holding swords and wearing khanjars
Travelling and tourism throughout Oman:
Movement and travel in has become easier within the country, despite the difficult and rugged roads and diversity of terrain in Oman. The government has sought to bridge the distances between regions and states with paved roads through the mountains and by building bridges. Omanis no longer need to ride horses, camels or donkeys for transportation anymore, instead they can use public transport or taxis or aircraft.
A statue of a khanjar on a highway
USB with khanjar case and key chain with khanjar
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