Tuesday, 7 December 2010

History of tartan

In our last post we told you about the history of the kilt, so now we have decided to do the same with tartan itself.

Tartan has without doubt become one of the most important symbols of Scotland and Scottish Heritage and with the Scots National identity probably greater than at any time in recent centuries, the potency of Tartan as a symbol cannot be understated. However, it has also created a great deal of romantic fabrication, controversy and speculation into its origins, name, history and usage as a Clan or Family form of identification.

Tartan is a woven material, generally of wool, having stripes of different colours and varying in breadth. The arrangement of colours is alike in warp and weft and when woven, has the appearance of being a number of squares intersected by stripes which cross each other.

The Celts for many thousands of years are known to have woven chequered or striped cloth and a few of these ancient samples have been found across Europe and Scandinavia. It is believed that the introduction of this form of weaving came to the West of Northern Britain with the Iron age Celtic Scoti (Scots) from Ireland in the 5 – 6th c. BC.

The word Tartan we use today has also caused speculation and confusion as one camp says it comes from the Irish word - tarsna - crosswise and/or the Scottish Gaelic tarsuinn – across. The Gaelic word for Tartan has always been – breachdan - the most accepted probability for the name comes from the French tiretaine which was a wool/linen mixture. In the 1600s it referred to a kind of cloth rather than the pattern in which the cloth was woven.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the highland tartans were associated with regions or districts, rather than by any specific clan. This was due to the fact that tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes and would tend to make use of the natural dyes available in that area.it was not until this period that specific tartans became associated with Scottish clans or Scottish families, or simply institutions who are (or wish to be seen as) associated in some way with a Scottish heritage.

1 comment:

  1. I have learned more than the history. I love the Scottish nation as a whole, I have a lot of Scottish friends and these guys loves to wear mens kilts in every occasion that we have. They will share their values to every where they are. I am proud of them!