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The Exhibition “Dagger Craftsmanship in the UAE”

Sharjah Museums Authority is organizing an exhibition titled “Dagger Craftsmanship in the UAE: A Craft of Authenticity and Creativity” at the Sharjah Heritage Museum. Dedicated to the craft of making traditional daggers called khanjar, it will be open till May 24, 2023.

The show aims to draw attention to preserving forging traditional daggers and the culture of carrying them. Although the latter isn’t a lost tradition, nowadays people wear khanjars only at some special occasions, for example, certain ceremonies. 

Arabic knifes in Oman, Muscat. Curve traditional daggers (khanjar)

At the exhibition, visitors will explore khanjar craftsmanship that requires specialised knowledge and great skills in working with different materials (ivory, leather and wood). They will learn about common types of daggers, their designs, and the crafting process itself. Many daggers displayed at the exhibition were designed by members of the Emirati family of Mohammed Hassan Al Naabi. This dynasty worked in dagger and sword making years before the unification of the UAE. 

There are such notable exhibits as large daggers made by Halima Abdullah Rashid, whose family has long specialized in crafting swords and daggers. Both of the displayed daggers received the Emirates National Records award by the Sea of Culture Foundation. One of them, which is plated with 24-K gold and has an image of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, got the largest dagger title. The second dagger is plated with gold and silver. Studded with turquoise, it bears the image of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. 

Traditional dagger of the Arabian peninsula worn by men for ceremonial occasions with an ornate belt

Among other items on display one will find a gold-plated Shamali dagger with a portrait of late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on its handle. A Shamali dagger decorated with silver and the likeness of Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi and a Shamali dagger made of silver and adorned with the UAE flag and emblem will also be available to look at.

The show will include a collection of Emirati artisan Abdullah Rashid Al Naabi’s tools. He used them for more than 40 years at his workshop in Dubai’s Al Rashidiya neighborhood to make daggers and swords sold locally and across the world.

Traditional Omani daggers

Apart from admiring the beautiful exhibits, visitors will also be able to participate in events organized as a part of the show, which include a workshop for adults on the theme “Art of Ageing”. Led by artist Marwa Al Sharbini, it will be held on December 14. On February 11, 2023, teens aged 13 to 17 years old will be invited to a workshop where they are taught to make daggers by hand.

To get more information, please visit the official webpage of the exhibition.

You might also be interested in visiting Museum Hub featuring the UAE antiques.

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