Why Do Sporrans Have Tassels?
A sporran is a part of traditional male Scottish kilt dress and serves as a pocket or a wallet. Made out of fur or leather, a sporran is a pouch that hangs down the front of the kilt using a chain that attaches to the hooks on the kilt wearer’s waist, or it can be worn on a leather strap. The use of a sporran dates back into Scottish history and was used during war times to help keep track of items that were needed. Besides being convenient to wear, a sporran also serves as a bit of decoration. They come in a variety of different styles, some more ornate than others. Some of them feature embroidery, but most of them have one to three tassels of some sort; this is especially true of semi-full of full-dress sporrans.
Why do sporrans typically have three tassels? It is said to commemorate the way that the traditional sporran closures used to look, so it is steeped in history. For that reason, most sporrans will have a minimum of two tassels, but many will come with three or more. They not only look good, but sporrans allow you to proudly follow your rich Scottish heritage by sporting one on your belt for all to see.
Back in their beginning stages, sporrans were first seen when the sporran molach, or the rabbit-haired sporran, came to be in the early 18th century. The tassels were introduced first by the military during this time period. Most sporrans usually had flap tops and big tassels, with three tassels usually present. From there, more types of hair were introduced, including horse hair and fox hair. Today, you can get real or fox hair sporrans to match the ones that were worn so long ago.
Along with their decorative purpose, tassels and other adornments serve a purpose. They are able to set apart one style of sporran from another in terms of their formal nature or informal design. Full dress sporrans will often have a minimum of three tassels, and sometimes as many as six tassels. These sporrans will usually be accompanied by ornate metal designs throughout.
Semi-dress sporrans are usually made out of fur as well, and they will often have three tassels. Tassels are not used on daily-wear sporrans that are not being worn for any other occasion than just to go out during the day. That said, sometimes even these casual sporrans will have one or two tassels on them just to follow tradition.
The reasons for the first tassels on sporrans may have been practical, but they are still every bit as stylish today as they were back in the day. Choose your sporran tassels based on the events you need to attend and be sure that you have one for every occasion.