Traditional Scottish Sgian Dubh

Scottish Sgian Dubh

Traditional souvenirs are great to bring home and remember all of the joys you experienced in another country. For those that want something to remember from their travels the Sgian Dubh would be a fantastic traditional souvenir. What is a Sgian Dubh? This is a black knife that is traditionally used in Scotland.

Sgian dubh is spelled in many different ways but it is pronounced one way. This is “skeen doo” phonetically. Sgian means dagger and dubh means black in Gaelic. There are two different theories about what the black part of the name truly means. Some believe that it is as simple as the average colour used for the handle, but some other feel that it has to do with how it is “secret” or “hidden”.

It is believed that this traditional dagger had eventually evolved from what is called an armpit dagger. That is a knife that was a bit larger in size than the traditional sgian dubh. It is rumoured that these were not only kept in a pocket under the man’s armpit but a Scottish woman would actually carry these types of knives under her skirt with her purse also.

There is another theory that this knife evolved from a knife kept in a set used for skinning. There have been sets like this found before. These sets were kept by the “ghillie” which means “boy” in Gaelic. He was considered a serving boy as the hunters would not do such a considerably “menial” job. These hunters were typically in the upper class so they could do this.

There is a vast history when it comes to this fantastic little dagger. The handles were made out of horn and brass in the beginning by Scottish smiths. These were a crude version of what they are now. Eventually they started becoming made with ivory and ebony. The design became more artistic and more particular, also.

This traditional weapon has a lot of legends attached to it. For example, the stone that is often in its pommel is weighed to provide a proper balance for throwing. This of course is untrue. Another one is that it should not be drawn for purposes that mean next to nothing and “must taste blood” before it can be put away again.

To purchase a traditional sgian dubh it may be best to get it from Scotland or even find one that is made in the states as these are where the best ones are made.

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