Great Britain - An impressive early 20th Century period Scottish Officer’s Dirk for to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the blade bearing the acid etched Coat of Arms of the Graham family with the motto “Bon Fin”, the fittings with the regimental motto “Sans Peur” complete with knife and fork set, both of which are inset into the pommel with fine Cairngorms, as is the pommel of the main dirk itself. These specific Cairngorms, a Scottish variant of smoky quartz / citrine, are all of a matching deep marmalade orange colour backing which shines through attractively.
Condition: Very good, consummate with age and usage, some contact wear.
The blade measures approximately 300 mm in length, the blade and hilt measure 445 mm in length. Unmarked scottish silver mounts, high quality carved wooden grips.
The Scottish dirk (also "Highland dirk", Scottish Gaelic: Biodag), as a symbolic traditional and ceremonial weapon of the Highland Cathairean (cateran or warrior), is worn by officers, pipers and drummers of Scottish Highland regiments. The development of the Scottish dirk as a weapon is unrelated to that of the naval dirk; it is a modern continuation of the 16th-century bullock or rondel dagger.
The traditional Scottish dirk is a probable development from the 16th century but like all medieval societies, the Highlander needed a knife for everyday use. The dirk became symbolic of a Highland man’s honour and oaths were sworn on the steel which was believed to be holy. The following highlights the importance of the dirk in Highland culture: “The dirk occupies a unique niche in Highland culture and history. Many Highland Scots were too cash-poor to buy a sword, but virtually every male carried a dirk—and carried it everywhere! If in Japan the katana was the soul of the Samurai, in Scotland the dirk was the heart of the Highlander. In many warrior cultures oaths were sworn on one's sword. Among the Gael, however, binding oaths with the force of a geas (involving dire supernatural penalties for breaking such an oath) were sworn on one's dirk. The English, aware of this, used the custom against the Highlanders after Culloden: When Highland dress was prohibited in 1747 those Gael who could not read or sign an oath were required to swear a verbal oath, "in the Irish (Scots Gaelic) tongue and upon the holy iron of their dirks", not to possess any gun, sword, or pistol, or to use tartan: "... and if I do so may I be cursed in my undertakings, family and property, may I be killed in battle as a coward, and lie without burial in a strange land, far from the graves of my forefathers and kindred; may all this come across me if I break my oath."
During the period of proscription, only service in a British regiment permitted Highlanders to bear their traditional arms and dress. The 78th Fraser Highlanders, raised in 1757, wore full highland dress uniform; their equipment was described by Major General James Stewart in 1780 as including a "musket and broadsword, to which many soldiers added the dirk at their own expense."
The modern development of the Scottish dirk into a ceremonial weapon occurred during the 19th century. The shape of the grip developed from the historical more cylindrical form to a shape intended to represent the thistle. Fancier fittings, often of silver, became popular shortly after 1800. The hilts of modern Scottish dirks are often carved from dark colored wood such as bog oak or ebony. Hilts and scabbards are often lavishly decorated with silver mounts and have pommels set with cairngorm stones. The blades measure 12" in length and are single edged with decorative file work known as "jimping" on the unsharpened back edge of the blade. When worn, the dirk normally hangs by a leather strap known as a "frog" from a dirk belt, which is a wide leather belt having a large, usually ornate buckle, that is worn around the waist with a kilt. Many Scottish dirks carry a smaller knife and fork which fit into compartments on the front of the sheath, and a smaller knife known as a sign dubh is also worn tucked into the top of the hose when wearing a kilt