Scotland is known for its traditional Highland dress, which includes way more than just a Kilt made of Tartan. One essential element is the Sporran, a pouch worn on a strap under the belt buckle. In Gaelic Sporan means purse.
Why Need One?
The Kilt in its beginnings was made of a single piece of clothing, the lower part worn like a skirt and the upper portion wrapped over the shoulders. The woollen garment kept the wearer warm and dry. The material is breathable and resistant to light rain. The design of the skirt was comfortable for all activities and could also be used as a blanket at night. Today, the garment is shorter. The kilt never had any pockets; that's the simple reason why Scots needed a bag to store personal items.
The pouch was held together by a drawstring or a thong. Other cultures had similar bags, attached to their belt. Sporrans today have a loop in the back to help connect it to a strap or belt.
Deer or calf skin was mostly used, later also fur or even hair from goats or horses. Some regions like the Western Isles preferred textiles. Over time, the Sporran got more and more decoration. It was a way to stand out visually and to demonstrate prosperity. In the early 18th century, for example, metal clasps came to use which were, depending on your status, made of brass or silver. Nowadays, the design has more to do with fashion and to underline the formality of the whole dress.
Day sporrans are pure in their design and made for daily use. They're often made of leather and include engravings, a flap top with a button and three tassels. At some occasions like weddings, it's appropriate to carry a simple Sporran. Watch this video to see how a modern, comfortable Sporran is created:
A Rob Roy is a Sporran in a different style. It's softer than the one shown above and tied with a drawstring. Because of the flexible body, this bag can hold more than a typical one.
A Dress Sporran is more formal, ornate and prominent and worn for special occasions. A metal cantle shapes the top either flat or convex. This piece is often emblazed with love to detail. There are different stages of formality. A Dress Sporran preferably matches with the (leather) kilt belt, the buckle, the kilt pin and the Sgian Dubh (a small knife). It's usually made of fur.
The kilted Scottish regiments in the military are wearing the Sporan Molach. That bags body is noticeable with long hair and has three or five hairy tassels on top of it.
Here you see different Sporrans throughout history:
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