Tartan: Here, There, and Everywhere!

Whether it be on a scarf at the dollar store, or a rug at a homeware depot, or even on the latest catwalks advertising the fashion trends of the year, tartan is everywhere, and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular patterns to have ever been created.

And, it is fully recognised as Scottish. And the Scots are quite proud of this too, unabashedly displaying the pattern along the streets in all shapes and forms.

Dancers in Tartan, NYC

In this blog post, we’ll explore the origin of the pattern, its deep roots in Scottish culture and what the pattern means in today’s society. Hopefully, readers will find this as enjoyable as I did while doing my research!

Tale of the Tartan: Its History

Tartan tells a tale of identity and clanship. Originally from the Scottish Highlands, communities in the region would adorn their clothes in this pattern to represent their ‘clan’.

Tartan was used as an identity marker amongst different communities.

Was this intentional? Originally, not really. Tartan assembly required an array of coloured threads. And what better way to get coloured thread than dying cloth? Cloth would be dyed in whatever natural dye was available at the time. And different regions would have different dyes available, which inevitably lead to tartan being highly customisable to different regions.

Tartan has rich roots in Scottish culture. It symbolises different clanships and identities that were present over the history of the country.

Compilation of Patterns

Here, I compiled a couple of clan patterns. But if you’d like to check out more, please click here.

Tartan in Modern Scotland

Scottish School Uniforms with Tartan

Tartan remains on many garments in Scotland. Official marches and parades often feature the pattern, and many Scottish school uniforms are decorated in their particular region’s tartan.

Shop Display on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

In major cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, you will find tourist shops, aisles brimmed with tartan merchandise. So clearly, although the pattern is quite symbolic of Scottish identity, it is also a pattern that is recognised to be of major tourist interest, and is duly manufactured on a large-scale basis.

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