Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ramadan 2016, Day 22 – Khanjar

We're coming down the home stretch of Ramadan, roughly one week to go. It's unclear exactly when Ramadan will end as it depends on seeing the first light of the crescent moon to indicate the next month but it will be the evening of July 4th or 5th.

I was at my friend's majlis the other day and he showed me a set of things that he recently received from a relative.

A set of old knives and swords. We weren't sure what some of them were, especially that unusually S-curved one at the far end, but the ones that look like a ‘J’ are a popular Arabian dagger called a khanjar.

Khanjar are mostly found in Yemen and Oman, and in those countries men will frequently wear them. They are so important to the culture of Oman it is on their national flag, and the Sultan will sometimes wear one in formal settings.

When I’ve been in Oman you see khanjar for sale in many tourist places, especially at Mutrah Souq in Muscat. I’ve seen khanjar for sale at sword shops in Qatar but it is not traditional for Qataris to wear them. Qataris prefer longer swords, as indicated during sword dances at weddings. I've never seen a Qatari wear a khanjar and I suspect if you walk around wearing one the police might have a chat with you.

Khanjar are not just a decorative item or fancy accessory, in some places in Yemen men continue to wear them, and use them if need be, though nowadays guns are preferred for fighting. Here's a picture of some Yemeni fighters from the current war, as you can see many of them wear khanjars.

As for my friend the swords and khanjars are purely decorative, he plans to hang them up on the walls of his house.

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