The Scotish Sporran

sporran

Image copyright © David Kay / iStockphoto
The kilt is almost universally recognised as the national dress of Scotland. Probably less well known yet just as important is the Sporran.

What Is A Sporran?

A sporran is an essential accessory for a man wearing a kilt. It can be thought of as the male equivalent of a "purse" or - in more modern terminology - a small "bum bag". This is needed because the traditional kilt has no pockets. Since it hangs just below the belt buckle the sporran also had (and perhaps still has) the extra advantage of protecting the male genital area from both inadvertent exposure and from attack. You can find sporrans for sale anywhere you can buy kilts.

History

The origin of the sporran is lost in history, however the earliest ones were likely to have been simple animal skins. Today they are usually made of leather or fur. Leather sporrans are more practical for day to day wear, those made of fur are more popular for dress or semi-dress purposes and these are the ones tourists will usually see worn by a street bagpiper.

Sporrans carry a variety of decorations, very often some form of Celtic pattern. Many of them - particularly the dress variety - have a metal trim at the top and/or tassles. These tend to be more ornate for more formal dress sporrans. You can also buy a variety of specialist attachments such as chains, hangers, kilt belts etc.

Full Mask

For those who really want the raw, historical feel of a traditional Scotish highlander you can also buy what is known as a full mask sporran. These are made from the fur of a single animal - complete with head. Such full mask sporrans are most popular with members of historical re-enactment and roleplay societies and are almost never seen in the streets of a modern Scottish city.