What's in your sporran?

"Sporan" is the Gaelic word for purse. Although not initially part of Highland Dress, they have become an integral part of the ensemble.  It has made a huge transformation from the small purse of deerskin that used to hang at the waist. There are now numerous varieties available: Leather sporrans with decorative cantles and tassels; Horsehair for those who like the swish as they march; for the fur lovers, badger, calf, rabbit, muskrat, sealskin, or full mask sporrans. The possibilities are endless.

There have been some misconceptions about the sporran.  Some believed that it was armour for the groin. This is commonly confused with the studded apron that can be found on the Roman sword belt. This Roman belt is occasionally referred to as a sporran or a groin guard, but is definitely different than the Scottish Sporran.  Some also believed  that a sporran keeps the front of the kilt down while doing energetic movements. The kilt actually has a double flap that crosses from left to right, and was first designed to stay down without the help of a sporran.

Many ask the question "what's under your kilt?" but have you ever asked what's in your sporran? For many, it acts as a pocket or a wallet, holding money and car keys, but for some it can hold a lot more. There are many Scots who carry a small flask of whisky in their sporran. Some pipers carry extra reeds or maintenance items in their sporran- hemp, tape, whatever they may need at a performance or competition. Historically, a sporran could carry one's food rations for the day. One sporran in the National Museum in Edinburgh has a cantle with 4 concealed pistols!

So when choosing your sporran, don't only think about what it looks like, but what you might want to put into it.

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