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Fine Omani, Four-Ringed Silver-clad Jambiya with Horn Hilt

Oman, probably Nizwa
19th century

length: 31cm, width: 25cm, weight: 675g



UK art market

This fine jambiya or khanjar dagger has a rhinoceros-horn hilt with a T-shaped pommel that has been clad partly in silver. The scabbard, of tapering form, is beautifully decorated with panels of silver chased with floral and leaf scrolls (around the locket), and a lower section of finely woven silver strips. The chape is covered in a silver sheet finely work with leaf scrolls.

The mid-section that is raised and has four rings for attaching to a belt. The two outer rings are mounted with a pyramidal silver coil and the two central rings are tightly bound with fine, twisted silver wire.

The reverse is covered in goat skin leather.

The blade is of steel but has old rust stains. In any event, Omani jambiya blades nearly always are disappointing. They often seem weak for their purpose: it seems that many Omani jambiya really were intended to be worn almost as jewellery for men. Certainly, they were largely ceremonial, to be worn by men on the outsides of their clothing at gatherings and at weddings.

The fine silverwork of this example suggests that it was made in Nizwa. The jambiya is of a type that was worn in the Sur area, Sur being a coastal city that was wealthy and important being Oman’s ship-building centre and an important centre for trade with Zanzibar and the rest of the east coast of Africa.

Overall, this is a fine example with excellent exterior condition.


Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.

Hawley, D., Oman & its Renaissance, Stacey International, 1977.

Rajab, J.S., Silver Jewellery of Oman, Tareq Rajab Museum, 1998.

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