Antique Omani silver Khanjar with chape signature and floral symbol on the back

Omani Khanjar
  • Description

Rare complete Omani Khanjar with seven heavy rings T shaped Rhino hilt with a shiny silver plate. Heavily covered with silver and filigree.  On the back an emblem and a signature of the silversmith. The emblem could be linked to a particular tribe, but we are not sure. Height 32 cm.

 Khanjars like this were still made in the Sharqiya as late as the 1970´s. See e.g. the book by Sir Donald Hawley (1987) page 137 top left for a brand new one.

 Antique Omani khanjar

 

Arab name: Omani Khanjar; Antique Omani silver Khanjar with signature and floral symbol on the back

Period: 1900-1970 

Origin: Oman Zanzibar From the Sharqiyah region according to ref 7 page 113  Robert Richmond

Origin: Purchased in Nizwa Oman over 35 years ago;  This type was made around Ibri In Oman but also apparently  in the Emirates and maybe Saudi Arabia.

Sir Donald Hawley describes and illustrates new examples of this type of khanjar as Omani in his book Oman & its Renaissance (ref 1) The Omani weapons expert Robert Richmond (ref 4) describes this type as Omani.

The important and reliable book Tribes in Oman by JRL Carter  (ref 5) describes them on page 161 as Omani and he names the silversmith as Sayf b. Hamad al Shaybaniy of Ibri as the maker of his khanjar.  Carter knew the silversmith personally. However he also says “In form it is typical of the  Dhahirah region of Oman  and shows strong affinities with the daggers produced in the area of the United Arab Emirates. Those more typical of Oman have handles made of ivory of giraffe horn (giraffe is the Arab word for rhino horn) and the scabbard of the Omani ones is of woven silver thread” . The handle of the above khanjar is made of Rhino horn, identical  to the old Saidi khanjars in my collection.

 A 1991 Saudi exhibition catalogue of the King Faisal Center with the title "Weapons of the Islamic world " (ref 3) , shows on page 56 identical khanjars described as “Doojaniyan” daggers. The silver scabbards are set with fine silver beads , and the hilts are in rhinoceros horn. Al-ahsa (Saudi Arabia)

A reader of our website Abdullatif Ali Al Nakkas identified the signature on the back of the chape  as Abdul Majid al Dajani. The Aldajani family had many workers. He is a famous Saudi arms maker from the al Hasa region whose work is legendary, and work of this type is called Doujani, a variant of his name by many southern Saudis. 

A similar khanjar with the same signature was sold in  Imperial Inc Auctions lot 410 march 21 2015. The floral emblem on the back of the handle  seems to be slightly different, the meaning of this floral emblem is unclear (maybe a tribal symbol) The signature on the khanjar in the auction is identical to the above one in our website. This auction identifies the signature on the khanjar as "Abd al Madalrajan?" and dates it to the second half of the 19th century. They identify the khanjar as Omani. See photos in our photo-slideshow.

Another type of khanjar the "Saidi khanjar" was produced and worn in Oman, but was also worn by Omani Arabs in East Africa and even by Arabs in Madagascar. Similar it seems that the above T-shaped khanjar was worn in Oman, the Emirates and southern part of Saudi Arabia. From JRL Carter and Sir Donald Hawley we know for certain  that this type  was also produced in Oman e.g. in Ibri by silversmith Hamad al Shaybany in Ibri  well into the 20th century. However it it is feasible that there may have been other locations of production including the Emirates and Southern Saudi Arabia.

 References:
  1. Oman & its Renaissance Sir Donald Hawley 1987 page 137
  2. The arms and armour of Arabia by Elgood 1994 page 82
  3. Weapons of the Islamic world Exhibition catalog King Feisal center Riyadh 1991 page 56 attributes this type of khanjar to Saudi Arabia
  4. Islamic art in Oman page 329 pict 11
  5. JRL Carter Tribes in oman Peninsular publishing page 161
  6. Unsheating the Omani Khunjar by Rober Richmond in A Tribute to Oman Volume IX 20th National Day page 110-115 (same khanjar on page 110 and 113