The Jambia as part of the Yemeni legacy
The Jambia is part of the Yemeni legacy and clothing that dates back to the pre-Islamic period.
The Jambia is a steel weapon that differs from the dagger in terms of the handle. The Jambia’s handle is made from ibex, rhinoceros’ horn and from elephant tusks. There could also be plastic or wood. There are many names for the handles, such as Saifani, which is extremely expensive. This handle is very precious because of its old age, anywhere from 400 to 1,500 years old. It is called Saifani, for it is extremely clear and somewhat transparent.
Yemenis still boast of this fashion, and they are prone to buy the very expensive Jambias passed down from father to son and from one generation to another.
Ibrahim Al-Darwish, a local from Khawlan, Al-Tial district, said he cannot put on any other clothes but the traditional ones, namely a robe, coat, Aseeb (belt) and Jambia.
“Every year in Eid Al-Fitr I try to buy a new belt. Sometimes, I stay without new clothes, yet the Aseeb is a prerequisite.”
Ibrahim doesn’t like to purchase green-colored Aseebs because his tribe doesn’t like this kind of belt. Hashid tribes wear the green belt. Ibrahim is from a Bakil tribe.
As clothing and fashion progressed into a new era, some traditions were altered. Some youth in Sana’a don’t care about the traditional costumes worn during Eid. They have become inclined to follow the latest fashions.
Mohammed Al-Sabri, a local in Sana’a, prefers to wear modern clothes and buys suits in Eid instead of traditional garments.
“Days prior to Eid, I go shopping with my colleagues and pick up fashionable clothes from abroad,” he said.
Al-Dabri said his family criticizes him for wearing jeans or a suit at Eid. His family prefers he wear traditional clothing.
In Sana’a and many other governorates across the country, Jambia’ and Aseeb centers spread due to the huge demand in this occasion.
Mohaamed Shadleeq, an owner of a Jambia center in Khawlan Street in Sana’a, said Eid is a season for this business.
“The majority of shoppers are from rural areas and are young people, adults and children.”
Shadleeq displayed many kinds of belts for sale such as the blue belt and the white belt. There is also another Aseeb for those called Sadah—those who believe they are the most valued people in the community.
At Eid, Shadleeq makes money that is equal to the money he earns throughout the entire year.
Jambia centers will not be shut down because people consider wearing them an indispensable part of their tradition, Shadleeq said. He said there are markets in Sana’a designed to sell Jambias such as the Al-Milh (Salt) Market in Bab Al-Yemen.
Jambias and belts have different qualities, so prices vary greatly.
Shadleeq said the most popular Jambias for Eid are the low-quality ones priced between 2,000 and 3,000 riyals. Lately, he said, the inexpensive Chinese Jambias have spread across markets in Yemen.
Knitting Aseebs appears to be an excellent art. Shadleeq said the Aseebs are embroidered by hand using colorful threads. Colors and drawings on Aseebs seem beautiful and aptly designed.
There are diverse types of belts. Al-Mufadali is the best; it is ascribed to the Al-Mufadal family famous for making these belts, according to Shadleeq.
He said there is another high-quality type called Al-Matwakili, ascribed to Imam Al-Matwakil.
There are many expert men who knit belts and sell them in the market. Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, the former leading chieftain of Hashid tribe, owned the most infamous Jambia. Other famous Jambias include those belonging to notorious figures such as businessman Abdu Anassir Al-Sunaidar and Sheikh Shaif of the Bakil tribe.