Khanjars have been used in Oman since at least the 3rd millennium BCE, and even in the distant past, they appear to have fulfilled a ceremonial as well as practical purpose.
Early khanjars from archaeological contexts are invariably straight-bladed, and the origins of the broad, curved blade which typifies the present-day Omani Khanjar remain enigmatic, but literary and iconographic evidence suggests the development of increasingly curved khanjars starting in the 9th-10th century AH/15th-16th century CE.
The wearing of a khanjar by the Imam Sultan bin Saif al Yarubi is clearly described in a transmission of the Dutch East India Company in 1082-83 AH/1672 CE.
The symbolic importance of weaponry is fully expressed in the national emblem, which comprises a sheathed Khanjar superimposed on two crossed, curved swords.
The emblem is featured on the current national flag of the country and stands as a reminder of the historic battles waged to build the peaceful and prosperous nation that is Oman today.
The Saidi style Khanjar, named after the royal house of al Busaid, is characterised by a pommel-shaped hilt and seven-ringed construction. It features a rhinoceros’ horn hilt and a silver-embroidered leather belt with a case silver buckle. A cartridge-shaped tweezers set is affixed to the belt and an auxiliary knife is fitted into a leather sheath on the back of the scabbard. The decoration on the hilt and scabbard of the Khanjar include chased, stamped and applied work, filigree and granulation.
The Suri style Khanjar, named after the Wilayat of Sur, is characterised by its small and lightweight size. Its hilt is usually glided. The scabbard is made of leather decorated with silver yarns. The scabbard ends with a silver funnel decorated by applied work.
The Bedouin style Khanjar or (al Sifani) is made of wood. The scabbard is also made of wood and covered with a leather silver decorated piece. This type is found in al Wusta and North Al Sharqiyah.
Al Nizwani style Khanjar is made in Nizwa. The scabbard is made of wood covered with a silver panel and the hilt is made of ivory and silver, similar to al Saidi Khanjar hilt.
The Khanjar is mentioned in the European travellers’ books like Robert Padbrugge book when he described Imam Sultan bin Said “His Highness.. had a belt around his middle, in which he wore a dagger which was crosswise covered with silk yarns.”
The German Engelbert Kaempfer who visited Muscat in the year 1688 mentioned that men were wearing daggers and the British Captain Alexandar Hamilton also mentioned that men were wearing daggers or a wide sword fixed vertically to their belts”.
Khanjars come at different prices depending on the size and the raw materials they are made of. Some are made of silver while others are plated with gold. The average price is RO 100- 500, but some can be around RO 2,000. The prices are determined according to the quantity of gold and silver used, and embellishments also factor in. If a khanjar comes with the bone of a giraffe, the horn of buffalo, or sandalwood, their prices are expected to be a little steeper than the artificial horns which many of the decorative khanjars are made of.