EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
These kattara really are intriguing swords, and actually have become more present in the collecting community in about the last decade or so, before that they seem to have been pretty obscure. I agree with Teodor that the most likely explanation would be for a lanyard type wristknot, which would of course be understandable in combat situations.
It is also possible that this might have been for addition of some type of decorative or perhaps auspicious festoon. On some Islamic swords there are sometimes a string of beads, usually five, added, though I have seen some of these decorative strands with six.
What is important to note is that the Omani's were primary merchants, and affluent and status conscious individuals wore these swords much in the way the janbiyya (termed khanjhar in Oman if I understand correctly) were worn.
While this example seems somewhat simple in its present dress, the newer leather is nicely added, it may have had much more decoration before. Many of these swords had silverwork sheathing removed over time. Perhaps this now seemingly austere example might have been more decorative in times before, and the auspicious addition idea in accord.
Nice sound example of a sword which carried its influence far and wide in Arab trade sphere, from Zanzibar to caravans across the Sahara, and possibly even influencing swords there.
All best regards,