Thursday, 30 August 2018

A Scott Adie Scottish Highland Dirk
To be offered at auction in our 
Antique and Interiors Sale Wednesday 5th September

A 'Dirk' is a long thrusting dagger that was used by officers as a personal weapon during hand-to-hand combat during the age of sail. From around 1800 it was also used as a personal sidearm of Highlanders and the officers, Pipers, and Drummers of Scottish Highland regiments, and Japanese naval officers.  The term 'Dirk' is associated with early modern era Scotland. During the 17th Century the term was spelled dork or dirk. The term is also used for "dagger" generically, especially in the context of prehistoric daggers such as the Oxborough dirk. The Scottish dirk (also "Highland dirk", Scottish Gaelic: Biodag) is an important part of Highland culture and Highland dress. It is 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 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, (British) 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." (Seago, Dale. THE WEAPONS AND FIGHTING METHODS OF THE HIGHLAND SCOTS - A study of the historical swordsmanship and warfare practices of the Scottish Highlanders. 1999)

The Dirk we are offering for auction, retailed by Scott Adie, Regent Street, London, comes with a carved leather sheath and carved wooden handle, both with silver mounts and a Celtic pattern running throughout

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