Inuit sealskins come to the rescue of Scotland’s under-threat sporran industry


By Oliver Farrimond

SCOTLAND’S under-threat sporran industry has seen help arrive from an unlikely quarter – Eskimos.

Faced with tough anti-sealskin EU legislation, fears have been widespread that the quality of Highland dress sporrans would suffer.

But a legal loophole means that sporran manufacturers may be able to import the material from the indigenous Arctic peoples.

EU rules mean that Inuits can still sell and export sealskin as it is considered a vital part of their culture.

So now Highland dress manufacturers are now hoping to be able to continue using sealskin, which is believed to be the best material for making sporrans.

Ian Chisholm, who runs Chisholm Highland Dress, said: “There’s a possibility that we may be able to still use the sealskins if they have been hunted as part of traditional culture.

“It is sad when you see the inferior sporrans being made.

“Being allowed to use sealskin would bring back that pride in knowing that the finest quality sporrans are made in Scotland.”

He added that being able to import the sealskins would be a “lifesaver” for the sporran industry.

Mr Chisholm, who is also a founding member of the Scottish Kiltmakers’ Association, said: “Nothing beats sealskin.

“It has a quality of its own, and a beautiful lustre against the tartan of the kilts.

“You can dye the other skins but you can still tell the difference.

“They do not have the same texture and are not as soft to feel.

The move would also represent a welcome boost for the Inuit communities, and would help to pay for vital supplies such as food, gas and snowmobiles.

A spokesman for the tribes said: “Our communities have a lot in common and we feel a connection with the people of Scotland who also rely on traditional trades.”

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