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Friday, April 15, 2005

Welsh sporran?

Ok, so back to the Welsh Tartan Centre. They write on their history page:


There is no evidence of the Welsh wearing a sporran. The Welsh used to wear a leather wallet called a 'sgrepan'. A 'sgrepan' is a very important part of the regalia serving to decorate and protect the wearer. It is made from leather, Welsh goat hair, Welsh cob hair and has leather straps.

One thing to keep in mind here is that sporran is simply the Gaelic word for a pouch. So to say that the Welsh did not wear sporrans is like saying they didn't wear pouches. Which only leads one to ask, "Where did they keep their stuff?"

And what of this "Sgrepan" that they are talking about? Well, I don't speak Welsh, but I would suspect that this is simply the Welsh word for a pouch or purse. If you look on their product pages you will find a listing for an Ysgrepan (one has to assume the same item is meant, though I don't know the reason for the different spelling). And what is it? Well, it looks an awful lot like a Scottish sporran... no surprise there.


The verdict. I have nothing against non-Scots, be they Welsh or Irish or Austrian or Iranian, wearing tartans and the kilt. I am flattered that they think highly enough of the Scottish national dress to want to adopt it. And if people want to design new tartans specifically for non-Scottish groups and families, go for it. But please, please, do not debase yourself and insult the intelligence of others by making false historic claims for these new designs.

4 comments:

Sherry in North Texas said...

According to http://www.cs.cf.ac.uk/fun/welsh/LexiconForms.html :

ysgrepan [-au, f.]
(n.) wallet, scrip

ysgrepan milwr
(n.) knapsack

Lars Willadsen said...

Just want to say, that I am one of those thinking so highly of the Scottish national dress, that I regularly wear my kilts and highland outfits also at the office and in client meetings. Which is quite a rare sight in any Danish advertising agency. So thanks for your broad mind and tolerance to us non-scots who wouldn't dream of living without the kilt. Kind regards/Lars

kilt said...

The 1st Battalion Black Watch left Edinburgh by train one evening, perhaps in October of 1958. We wore drill order which consisted of kilt and TOS etc. We always travelled in kilts in those days. It's such a long time ago that I forget which port we embarked from.

Anonymous said...

To clarify your query in regards to the different spelling for the same object:-

"If you look on their product pages you will find a listing for an Ysgrepan (one has to assume the same item is meant, though I don't know the reason for the different spelling)".

In Welsh (Cymraeg) there is a phenomenon referred to as treiglad (mutation) which to explain to anyone who has no understanding of Welsh at all would be futile. However, in a futile attempt to try to explain the “Y” in front of sgrepan, it loosely means “the”.

The “Y” would be used or omitted according to the context the word “ysgrepan” is used in, but neither forms are wrong.

Ysgrepan doesn’t mean pouch as you’ve suggested but is the unique name given to the pouch which resembles the yr Alban (Scotish) sporran.

I hope this explains things from a Cymro (Welshman’s) perspective.