Friday, December 6, 2013

Tartan Plaid

Tartans are back!  Well, they never really went out of style.  This season, tartan is out everywhere and that makes me happy!  I love tartan and enjoy seeing it in so many ways.

So I decided to do a little research....

Tartan is one of the most important symbols of Scotland and Scottish Heritage.  Tartan is a woven material mostly made of wool and having stripes of different colors that vary in length and width.  The woven fabric looks like a number of squares that are intersected by stripes that cross each other.  By changing the colors and varying the width and stripes, differences evolved. 

The word tartan comes from the Irish word – tarsna – crosswide  and/or the Scottish Gaelic word - tarsuinn – across.  From the French, tiretaine – which was a wool/linen mixture. 

In the late 1700’s, the Jacobite army was organized into Clan Regiments - which was the first hint of the use of tartan as a clan uniform.  Each major family or clans of families had an artisan weaver who would produce the same tartan for those around him.  That tartan would become what is known as a “District Tartan” – one worn by those living in close proximity to each other or fighting as one clan.   Weavers depended on local plants for their dyes so the locality of the weaver might well have had some bearing on the colors of the tartan that he produced.   It was thought that clans would wear their “family tartan” as a way to distinguish themselves on the battlefield - although history is not clear on this.  Some well known tartans: 


Royal Stewart

MacLean Black and White

Another great boom to the tartan came in the mid 1800's from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  They fell in love with Balmoral, the Royal residence in Scotland, with tartan and all things Highland.  As such, the prince designed the now world famous Balmoral Tartan.  

And who today doesn't recognize this tartan?  Burberry.

The tartan is a pattern of distinction and popularity.   We often hear of  “tartan plaid” together.  A plaid was a large piece of cloth draped over the shoulder by Highland men and women.  Today, we use the term “tartan plaid” synonymously. 

I know you weren't looking for a history lesson today, but since it's everywhere right now, I thought I'd find out a little bit more about it.  

Have a great weekend!