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Sgian Dubh – History of the Sgian Dubh and How to wear it Correctly

If you have ever seen someone dressed in a Kilt or Highland Outfit you might have noticed, peeking out the top of one of the wearers hose, a hilt of a small knife. This little detail on the Highland Outfit is the topic of today’s post, the Sgian Dubh.

Where does the Sgian Dubh go?
The correct Wearing of a Sgian Dubh

History of the Sgian Dubh

There are many origin stories of the Sgian Dubh (pronounced ‘ski-en doo’), but the most common tale is that it had its beginnings as a dagger held under the armpit as a hidden blade. When entering a house a visitor would hand over his weapons and reveal any hidden blades as an act of trust. This hidden blade would be displayed at the top of the sock or stocking for the host to see. This is the position where the Sgian Dubh is worn today.

In the early days these small knives would have been used as a hunters knife to skin animals.

In the modern Highland Outfit the Sgian Dubh has taken a more aesthetic than practical role, adding some decoration to the Kilt Hose.

How to Wear a Sgian Dubh

A Sgian Dubh should be worn down the sock on the same side as your dominant hand (Left sock if left-handed, right sock if you are right-handed.) It should be positioned with only the hilt (handle) protruding from the top of your hose. (See image)

Types of Sgian Dubh

Silver Dress Sgian Dubh with Gemstone Handle
Dress Sgian Dubh with Purple Gemstone in the Hilt

In the same way that there are different types of Sporrans for different occasions, Sgian Dubh have variations for when you are wearing them. There are 2 main types of Sgian Dubh.

Day Sgian Dubh

Simlarly to the Day Sporran, these Sgian Dubhs are made for less formal events. The handles can produced in many different materials from Stag Horn to Oak and everything in between!

Dress Sgian Dubh

Again, much like the Dress Sporran, these Sgian Dubhs are suited to formal events (Weddings, Black Tie events etc.). These also come in many variations, often with the option of customization with a clan crest. They come in many different materials, usually with some metal plating. They can also be made in solid silver for those very special functions! Many variations have a decorative gemstone at the base of the hilt, which can be changed.

Safety Sgian Dubh

This replica Sgian Dubh looks just like the real thing, however the sheath does not contain a blade. This is a great safe option for kids (and adults!) to prevent themselves getting cut on the blade. A Safety Sgian Dubh can also be worn in situations where it isn’t possible to carry a blade – traveling overseas to some destinations for instance.

Safety Imitation Sgian Dubh for Kids and Adults
A Safety Imitation Sgian Dubh - Looks just like the real thing!

As you can see there are Sgian Dubh’s for every occasion. All are worn the same, but can give your outfit a different look depending on the event you are wearing your Highland Outfit too!

Houston’s offer a wide range of both Dress and Day Sgian Dubh’s, some with the option of having Clan Crests attached, customizable Gemstone colours and a variety of finishes.

You can see our range of Sgian Dubh’s here.

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