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Old 23rd February 2012, 04:55 PM   #1
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default The Omani Work Knife.

The Omani Work Knife. (Sikkeen)

Traditionally this is often an English butter knife of Sheffield steel or a German Solingen blade, their handles silver decorated and usually silver crowned and worked over the bone handle. It is tucked behind the Omani Khanjar and used as the utility blade for cutting string or leather and other menial tasks. The scabbard is simple leather.
Another knife from the Mussandam occasionally can be seen in the North of Oman doing the same job and that is discussed on Forum viewed by typing into Search Are these Shafras.
There is yet one more knife that is worn separately on its own often tucked in the side position (not worn with the Khanjar) ... a much longer working knife though again either German or British steel and with or without a silver worked hilt. The scabbard may be wooden with geometric decoration or simple leather.
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Note: Occasionally steel blades fashioned from bedford truck suspension unit steel or from files plus modern Japanese blades are seen. The longest blade pictured is marked simply Oman in arabic and the lower butter knife(for wearing behind the Omani Khanjar) with its Sheffield Maker.W and H (Walker and Hall). The knife at the top of picture has a wooden geometric decorated scabbard and the blade is marked Solingen with a partial undecipherible name which reads Friedrich--(followed by a couple of unknown leters)-- und Sohn. The knife with no hilt is unmarked but appears to mirror the Solingen.
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Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 23rd February 2012 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:02 AM   #2
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Default these are down home

These are KNIVES. These really are becoming my favorite shape... multi-functional, as in -knife- , ya know?
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:12 PM   #3
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Default Thankyou

Thanks for posting this.
When you said earlier in another post that Sheffield and Solingen butter knives were the preferred working knife I was very surprised. A reuse in a different context of a very mundane item.
Decorated with silver, cost is evidently not the primary factor either. So quality of steel and flexibility are seen as the important thing then!
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Old 29th February 2012, 04:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
Thanks for posting this.
When you said earlier in another post that Sheffield and Solingen butter knives were the preferred working knife I was very surprised. A reuse in a different context of a very mundane item.
Decorated with silver, cost is evidently not the primary factor either. So quality of steel and flexibility are seen as the important thing then!


Salaams David R ~ Yes correct. As an auxiliary work knife it needs to be good steel so a decent edge can be applied. The Sheffield Butterknife(or Solingen variant) is ideal because it can be made razor sharp. They need that for cutting string, leather and other tasks. They also often have a silver Raj crown at the pommel and wire wrapped and decorated hilts. Shukran.
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Old 1st June 2012, 02:21 PM   #5
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Salaams all~ Here is a nice example of a Sheffield "Long Hawkesley and Co cake or butter knife (factory operated from circa 1860 to 1900) This knife is in line to be converted to an Omani Khanjar work knife with a little leather sheath and a nicely worked silver handle ~ Worn tucked in behind the dagger.
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 3rd December 2012, 04:33 PM   #6
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Salaams Note to Forum.

These longer work knives are more often worn on their own at the side whilst the slightly shorter butter knife variety fit behind the Khanjar. Here's two..One can be seen with Solingen stamp(same knife at #1) and the other Joseph Rodgers Sheffield England. 19th C. Victorian.

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Old 3rd December 2012, 05:10 PM   #7
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Elgood, in his book, cites Keane's diary of his 1877 travel to Mecca. The beduin who accompanied him, was very proud of his knife: " Rogers!". It was, indeed, Rodgers' carving knife. The beduin proudly gave the point a significant spring, and made a motion of cutting a throat: : " In the name of God! The God is great! Infidel!". Keane " didn't care care to continue the subject" :-)
Further, he noted that "any blade with English characters on it, or even a native blade of well- proven metal obtains that name". It became a synonym of a good blade.

Beauty and mystique of Indian and Persian wootz notwithstanding, European blades became the favorites of the natives throughout the "Orient", from West Africa to India proper. Since the natives used them for their intended battle purposes and definitely knew a thing or two about steel quality, it speaks volumes about comparative mechanical characteristics of the local metallurgical vs. scientific industrial qualities.

Water Scott's fictional description of the superiority of the "saracen" blade of Saladin over the sword of Richard the Lionheart (" The Talisman") hypnotized the minds of the Europeans for centuries.


The funniest thing, this story is still cited in the professional literature as a valid reason to study the metallurgy of "jouhar", the only example of contemporary fiction passed as a valid reference by the reviewers of scientific journals. Truly, a pen sometimes IS mightier than the sword:-)
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Old 4th December 2012, 03:36 AM   #8
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Default Some more examples

Here are three more examples. Though none are actually marked, they are likely from old european/british cutlery. The bottom item is made from a file.
Those used as a Khanjar back knife I believe to be called SHAFRA, and those which have their own scabbard and worn tucked into a belt or bandolier are called KHUSA.
I have shown the back knife scabbard as an information source.
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Old 4th December 2012, 03:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Here are three more examples. Though none are actually marked, they are likely from old european/british cutlery. The bottom item is made from a file.
Those used as a Khanjar back knife I believe to be called SHAFRA, and those which have their own scabbard and worn tucked into a belt or bandolier are called KHUSA.
I have shown the back knife scabbard as an information source.




Salaams khanjar1. See http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=shafra by Archer for the optimum information on this discussion.

The smaller ones are indeed English and German butter knives whilst the bigger ones are the bigger place setting knives, though, the spoons and forks simply didn't make it ! They are from the Victorian period. The best ones are stamped often with their Solingen (they are likely to have come up from Africa) or Sheffield makers names and the usual tribute as at my post to Queen Victoria. One of the oft' seen companies is Joseph Rodgers and the patriarch of this family recalls 60 years ago handling box loads of these knives fresh from India imported here via Ajman and Muscat. Once here they were given the expert silver treatment and superbly decorated etc

The steel blades were perfect for their work as the auxiliary knife for menial tasks such as cutting leather or string or killing chickens or small game. The crown on the pommel is a throwback to the Taj crown of Victorian India. This knife comes in two sizes and generally the bigger one has a wooden scabbard generally lightly carved and is worn separately at the side under a belt on its own whilst the smaller knife (the cake or butter knife) can be seen tucked into a flat leather scabbard behind the Khanjar on either side where it protrudes like a gear stick ! They are referred to in Oman as Sikkeen (knife) whereas Shafra is of the Saudia / Yemen description.

The exception is with the Mussandam where they have a knife more similar to the Shafra but called after the dominant Mussandam tribe The Shehu.. The knife is called "Shehe". There is another work knife from Mussandam oddly with ears like the Yat. (Yatagan) but this appears to be linked to the Baluch (who are only across the water from there) knife though again they slap the generic name Shehe on that as well. See http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=16328

Unmarked knives appear though generally they are either made locally by Mussandam craftsmen in market towns Lima and evidence points to the wandering Zutoot who pre 1970 were essentially gypsies in Oman now integrated into society who made blades from anything to hand like old Bedford army truck springs or files etc. or imported blades from Japan.

The best respected, imported blades are undoubtedly Sheffield.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th December 2012 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 4th December 2012, 03:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Elgood, in his book, cites Keane's diary of his 1877 travel to Mecca. The beduin who accompanied him, was very proud of his knife: " Rogers!". It was, indeed, Rodgers' carving knife. The beduin proudly gave the point a significant spring, and made a motion of cutting a throat: : " In the name of God! The God is great! Infidel!". Keane " didn't care care to continue the subject" :-)
Further, he noted that "any blade with English characters on it, or even a native blade of well- proven metal obtains that name". It became a synonym of a good blade.

Beauty and mystique of Indian and Persian wootz notwithstanding, European blades became the favorites of the natives throughout the "Orient", from West Africa to India proper. Since the natives used them for their intended battle purposes and definitely knew a thing or two about steel quality, it speaks volumes about comparative mechanical characteristics of the local metallurgical vs. scientific industrial qualities.

Water Scott's fictional description of the superiority of the "saracen" blade of Saladin over the sword of Richard the Lionheart (" The Talisman") hypnotized the minds of the Europeans for centuries.


The funniest thing, this story is still cited in the professional literature as a valid reason to study the metallurgy of "jouhar", the only example of contemporary fiction passed as a valid reference by the reviewers of scientific journals. Truly, a pen sometimes IS mightier than the sword:-)


Salaams ariel Superb references and comments /detail especially on the Joseph Rodgers knife...thanks!

Please see http://www.eggintongroup.co.uk/hist...ph-rodgers.html

Quote "Like many of Sheffield cutlery firms, the early history of Joseph Rodgers is a little unclear. It is claimed that a cutler called Joseph or John Rodgers operated out of a building in Hawley Croft close to location of Sheffield’s present day cathedral. In 1730 what are claimed to be his two sons Maurice and Joseph took over.

The mark of *The Star and Maltese Cross was originally registered in March 1682 by a Benjamin Rich. However, it is with Rodgers that this mark will forever by associated and they registered it in 1764". Joseph Rodgers’ success is evident in the firm’s appointment to five successive sovereigns - George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria, Edward II and George V.Unquote.

*The Star and Maltese Cross mark is seen on my knife at # 6.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th December 2012 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 5th December 2012, 09:42 AM   #11
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Fascinating Ibrahiim, Thank You!

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