Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 17.COM 7.B.21

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Oman has nominated Al-Khanjar, craft skills and social practices (No. 01844) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Al-Khanjar is a part of traditional dress worn by men in Oman during national and religious events and special occasions such as weddings. An essential element of Omani culture, its manufacture requires significant knowledge and skills that are transmitted from one generation to next. The Omani khanjar is attached around the waist and includes a belt, handle, blade, scabbard and cover, all made from a variety of materials including wood, leather, cloth and silver. The materials, which are engraved with unique designs, are viewed as a reflection of the connection to the land. The khanjar is a part of the state emblem and plays a key role in many Omani customs and traditions. Historical sources and archaeological discoveries indicate that Omanis have worn the khanjar for centuries. Formal workshops and trainings also contribute to its transmission. A highly appreciated gift, the khanjar is one of the gifts that Omanis give to official guests as an expression of the cultural connection between nations. Many poems in the Omani literature also describe and praise the khanjar, and Omani artists and photographers have competed in documenting the object and the craft. Wearing the khanjar is also associated with many, if not all, Omani folk arts.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Al-Khanjar is an element of Omani culture that is worn by Omani men by wrapping it with a decorated waistbelt called huz'aq. The Al-Khanjar is associated with the craftsmanship of preparing and installing various pieces and materials such as wood, leather, cloth and silver. The element is tied to many cultural and social aspects and meanings in Oman, as it is part of the state emblem and of men's clothing and has a presence in many of the Omani cultural elements, customs and traditions. The bearers and practitioners include the craftsmen who make the khanjar, leather tanners, researchers and members of Omani society. The form explains that the element was previously restricted to men, but there are Omani women who now practice the craft. The element is transmitted via informal ways, such as within families and by wearing the khanjar at events. It is also transmitted in formal ways, such as in training centres and through school curricula.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will contribute to raising awareness about intangible cultural heritage and the craft's importance among all practitioners. At the national level, inscription will contribute to the exchange of information and experiences between the bearers, and highlight the link between intangible cultural heritage and many aspects of life. At the international level, inscription will contribute to highlighting this craft and related customs and traditions in other countries where AI-Khanjar exists. The craft of making khanjar is related to other traditional crafts such as leatherwork and weaving. As such, inscription of the element will also enhance dialogue between craftsmen. It will contribute to enhancing respect for intellectual creativity, and encourage communication between countries and within a wide field of culture and knowledge.

R.4:   The nomination file indicates that the communities, groups and individuals concerned participated in the process of preparing the nomination file by participating in interviews, meetings, workshops, exhibitions and the filming of the element. The nomination team also visited craftsmen in the markets of Nizwa, Sinaw and Muscat to verify the information in the file. The nomination file included various letters of consent from practitioners of all genders. There is no restriction of access to the element, and craftsmen are proactive in sharing the skills associated with the element through various media channels.

R.5:   The element was added to the Oman National Inventory, under the section of skills related to craft industries, on 6 October 2013. The element was included in the inventory with wide community participation. The inventory is maintained by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth. The inventory lists were prepared in 2010 and updated in 2013, and the file explained that Oman hopes to launch the second update of the inventory in 2021.

  1. Further considers that, from the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State Party through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.3:   The nomination file explains that the past and current safeguarding measures include various exhibitions and festivals such as the Salalah Tourism Festival and Muscat Festival. Khanjar makers participate in training workshops that impart the craft skills directly to the younger generation. The State Party supports the safeguarding of the element in terms of research, promotion, documentation, protection and ensuring the element's sustainability. Various proposed safeguarding measures have been included. Some examples include the documentary research programmes, vocational training programmes, programmes and rewards to encourage practice of the craft, provision of grants, loans and facilities to support craftsmen, etc. Through the dialogue process, the State Party clarified that the communities were involved in the preparation of the proposed safeguarding measures in the areas of 1) preservation and documentation; 2) creativity and sustainability; 3) Publication and Awareness; and 4) Introductory and awareness-raising meetings. Community participation will be included in research projects, training projects for teaching Al-Khanjar craft, and promotion and media programmes.

  1. Decides to inscribe Al-Khanjar, craft skills and social practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the State Party of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in planning and implementing safeguarding measures and in the inventorying process.