Scottish Dress Skean Dhu Dagger

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Scottish 20th Century Dress Skean Dhu Dagger

A good example of a Scottish dress skean dhu with white metal mounts and inset citrine stone to the pommel.  Plated blade and complete with original scabbard.

The sgian-dubh is a small, singled-edged knife worn as part of traditional Scottish Highland dress along with the kilt. It is worn tucked into the top of the kilt hose with only the upper portion of the hilt visible. The sgian-dubh is normally worn on the right leg, but can also be worn on the left, depending on whether the wearer is right or left-handed.  The name comes from the Gaelic sgian-dubh. Although the primary meaning of dubh is "black", the secondary meaning of "hidden" is at the root of sgian-dubh, based on the stories and theories surrounding the knife's origin, in particular those associated with the Highland custom of depositing weapons at the entrance to a house prior to entering as a guest.  Despite this practice, a small twin edged-dagger concealed under the armpit, combined with a smaller knife, ('sgian-dubh'), concealed in the hose or boot, would offer an element of defence or of surprise if employed in attack.

Various alternative spellings are found in English, including "skene-dhu" and "skean-dhu".  The sgian-dubh may have evolved from the sgian-achlais, a dagger that could be concealed under the armpit. Used by the Scots of the 17th and 18th centuries, this knife was slightly larger than the average modern sgian-dubh and was carried in the upper sleeve or lining of the body of the jacket.

Courtesy and etiquette would demand that when entering the home of a friend, any concealed weapons would be revealed. It follows that the sgian-achlais would be removed from its hiding-place and displayed in the stocking top held securely by the garters.  Traditionally the scabbard is made of leather reinforced with wood and fitted with mounts of silver or some other metal which may be cast or engraved with designs ranging from Scottish thistles, Celtic knotwork, or heraldic elements such as a crest. While this makes for more popular and expensive knives, the sheath is hidden from view in the stocking while the sgian-dubh is worn. The sheaths of many modern sgian-dubhs are made of plastic mounted with less expensive metal fittings.

Condition of the Skean Dhu

In excellent condition throughout.

Specifications of the Skean Dhu

Blade length is 3.5 inches (7 inches overall).

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