Report on Khanjar in UAE Museum


Arab Culture has been found to have diverse forms with rich roots resonating in many countries in the Middle East. Dubai Museum houses a myriad of artifacts belonging to ancient Arabic Culture. The historic object in focus is a dagger which is recognized Jambiya or Khanjar. It is available for people to observe in the Dubai Museum.
It is an integral part of many Arab traditions and it is worn by during weddings, formal dinners or state and military occasions. The people of Yemen also term is as `Asib and Tuza. The former is referred to the type of Jambiya found in the attire of Tribesmen or Village folk. (Cammann, 1977) The latter is the term more appropriately used for the type of Jambiya adorned by noblemen and chieftains. The time of origin of Jambiya is determined to be in the mid-18th century in region of Saudi Arabia. It is still a prominent occurrence in the cultures of Yemen and Oman.
The earlier use of Khanjars was for personal protection, as a weapon in wars and also as a tool for hunting. Currently it is regarded as an adornment for males which is considered as a symbol of male elegance worn by common folks and sheikhs alike. They are inherited from generation to generation among Arab people prominently witnessed in cultures of Yemen and Oman. (Heinze, 2014)

A typical Khanjar visibly has three parts which are the hilt, the blade and the sheath. It is worn around the waist and the sheath is housed in a belt. The blade of the Khanjar is usually made from high-quality steel and the hilt is formed using ivory in most cases. The hilt of the Khanjar is also made using ebony, sandalwood and Rhinoceros horn. The element in the Khanjar noticed significantly in an artistic perspective is the Scabbard (sheath) which is intricately decorated through hand crafting. (The History Project Team, 2011)
The decoration in the scabbard contains shapes and designs found in Arabic culture but custom designs can also be used in its crafting. It is decorated using gold and silver embroidered in the form of rings. The typically seen Khanjars have at most seven rings. Out of the seven rings, two are used to hold the belt while and the other five are woven into the scabbard. There is no specific significance to the rings other than the fact that they are made of gold or silver The Khanjar housed in the Dubai Museum has a bone and silver handle while the scabbard is made of leather which is decorated with silver. It is worn on a belt in which the Blade does not sit at the left or right side but at the middle. The belt of the Khanjar might also have containers of Kohl which protects a person’s eyes from heat. (ICOMAM, 2011)
The Khanjar generally has a curved double edged blade and broad around the hilt and grows pointy and the end. It is curved around the tip which requires the scabbard to be curved as well giving it a very elegant shape. The blades of the Khanjars are made of steel which is oxidized and does not corrode. The material at the hilt is artificially flattened which form and oval at the end. (Heinze, 2014)

Its cultural significance and presence can be found in Yemen and Oman. It is also found in currency notes of Oman as well as a part of symbol in government buildings. It is also a part of the Suntanetes’ national symbol featured on the emblem of the country which depicts its importance in the culture. The price of a Khanjar ranges from 500 Yemen Rials to more than 200 Million Riyals for some Khanjars which are adorned with precious metals, which are very ancient or belong to some important people. (Cammann, 1977)

The Khanjar housed in the Museum of Dubai is an artifact that is the part of a cultural lineage that is centuries old and still culturally relevant in certain parts of the Middle-East. It is also a symbol of tradition and the courage of men. Usually only the members of the royal family wore a Khanjar but common people also wear a Khanjar as a part of their attire.

Cammann, S. V. (1977). Cult of the Jambiya – Dagger Wearing in Yemen. Expedition, pp. 27-34.
Heinze, M.-C. (2014). The Yemeni janbiya and its various parts. Jemen-Report, pp. 44-48.
ICOMAM. (2011). Sultanate of Oman. ICOMAM Magazine, pp. 53-57.
The History Project Team. (2011, December 1). Khanjar dagger, circa 1930s. Retrieved from


Posted on

March 7, 2018

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