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Oman Culture - Male national dress

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The national dress for Omani men is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men may wear a variety of head dresses. The mussar is a square of finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. Underneath this, the kummah, an intricately embroidered cap, is sometimes worn.

The shal, a long strip of cloth acting as a holder for the khanjar may be made from the same material as the mussar. Alternatively, the holder may be fashioned in the form of a belt made from leather and silver. On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in detail. Some men from traditional families carry a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events.

The Khanjar

The curved dagger, the khanjar is a distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the waist.

The shape of the khanjar is always the same and is characterised by the curve of the blade and by the near right- angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may vary from simple covers to ornate silver or gold-decorated pieces of great beauty and delicacy. In the past the silver khanjars were made by melting down Marie Theresa silver coins. Different types of khanjar are named after the regions in which they are made and vary according to size, shape, type of metal and the overlay. The top of the handle of the most usual khanjar is flat but the "Saidi" type, which takes its name from the Ruling Family, has an ornate cross-shaped top. However, all possess certain common features and have the same components:

* The hilt may be made of costly rhinoceros horn or substitutes such as sandalwood and marble.
* The blade determines the value of the khanjar according to its strength and quality.
* The sadr, or upper part of the sheath, is decorated with silver engraving,
* The sheath, the most striking part of the khanjar madeup of lether, is worked with silver threads.

khanjars are supported on belts of locally made webbing, sometimes interwoven with silver thread or belts of leather covered by finely woven silver wire with handsome silver buckles, and a knife with an ornate handle of silver thread is often stuck into a simple leather pouch behind the sheath.

khanjars are worn on formal occasions and at feasts and holidays, and almost all Omani men boast one.

Once worn in self-defence, the khanjar is today both a fashion accessory and a prestige item much in demand.


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2019-05-22T21:41:17-04:00