Shagreen is a type of roughened untanned leather, formerly made from a horse's back, or that of an onager (wild ass), and typically dyed green. Shagreen is now commonly made of the skins of sharks and rays. The word derives from the French "chagrin" (anxiety, annoyance – a reference to the rasping surface of the leather) which in turn is said to have developed from the Turkish [ [ - Definition of Shagreen] ] [ [ Shagreen in Merriam-Webster Online] ] "sağrı", literally, the back of a horse. Shagreen has an unusually rough and granular surface, and is sometimes used as a fancy leather for book bindings, pocket-books and small cases, as well as its more utilitarian uses in the handles of swords and daggers, where slipperiness is a positive disadvantage.

Shagreen was traditionally prepared by embedding plant seeds (often "Chenopodium") in the untreated skin while soft, covering the skin with a cloth, and trampling them into the skin. When the skin was dry the seeds were shaken off, leaving the surface of the leather covered with small indentations.

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, however, the term "shagreen" began to be applied to a leather made from sharkskin or the skin of a rayfish (probably the pearl ray, "Hypolophus sephen"). This form is also termed sharkskin or galuchat. Such skins are naturally covered with round, closely set, calcified papillae called placoid scales, whose size is chiefly dependent on the age and size of the animal. These scales are ground down to give a roughened surface of rounded pale protrusions, between which the dye (again, typically green vegetable dye) shows when the material is coloured from the other side. This latter form of shagreen was first popularised by Jean-Claude Galluchat (d. 1774), a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV of France. It quickly became a fashion amongst the French aristocracy, and appears to have migrated throughout Europe by the mid-18th century.

In medicine, a shagreen patch is a patch of shagreen-like rough skin, often on the lower back, found in some people with the genetic condition tuberous sclerosis.

ee also

* La Peau de chagrin

Further reading

* Jean Perfettini - "Le galuchat" (Henri Vial, 1989) ISBN 2-85101-021-2


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  • Shagreen — Sha*green , Shagreened Sha*greened a. 1. Made or covered with the leather called shagreen. A shagreen case of lancets. T. Hook. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Covered with rough scales or points like those on shagreen. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Shagreen — Sha*green , n. [F. chagrin, It. zigrino, fr. Turk. saghri the back of a horse or other beast of burden, shagreen. Cf. {Chagrin}.] 1. A kind of untanned leather prepared in Russia and the East, from the skins of horses, asses, and camels, and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Shagreen — Sha*green , v. t. To chagrin. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Shagreen — Strong, cotton fabric, heavily sized and finished to resemble leather, used for bookbinding …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • shagreen — [shə grēn′] n. [altered (as if from SHAG1 & GREEN) < Fr chagrin < Turk sağrı, horse s back, hide from this area] 1. rawhide with a rough, granular surface, made from the skin of the horse, seal, etc. 2. the hard, rough skin of the shark or… …   English World dictionary

  • shagreen — sha·green (shə grēnґ) 1. a type of untanned leather covered with granulations. 2. the rough skin of various types of sharks. 3. having a rough, nevoid surface and a resemblance to shark skin; see shagreen patch, under patch. Shagreen… …   Medical dictionary

  • shagreen — noun Etymology: by folk etymology from French chagrin, modification of Turkish sağrı Date: 1677 1. an untanned leather covered with small round granulations and usually dyed green 2. the rough skin of various sharks and rays when covered with… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • shagreen — 1) untanned sharkskin retaining the placoid scales; it has a rough sandpaper like surface and was formerly used for sandpaper, sword grips, etc.; also used to refer to the skin of sharks which has been treated by filing down and painting or… …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • shagreen — /sheuh green /, n. 1. an untanned leather with a granular surface, prepared from the hide of a horse, shark, seal, etc. 2. the rough skin of certain sharks, used as an abrasive. adj. 3. Also, shagreened. resembling, covered with, or made of… …   Universalium

  • shagreen — sha•green [[t]ʃəˈgrin[/t]] n. 1) clo an untanned leather with a granular surface, prepared from the hide of a horse, shark, seal, etc 2) the rough skin of certain sharks, used as an abrasive 3) Also, sha•greened′. made of or resembling shagreen • …   From formal English to slang

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