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Re: Medieval Chronicles - Typescript

Poster: Matthew Allen Newsome <mnewsome@warren-wilson.edu>

On Tue, 15 Oct 1996, Rowanwald South wrote:
> music/upcoming concerts/tartans/merchants/and such... email me 
> (rowanwald@wwisp.com) if you're interested.
> Rosine

This reminds me... 
I've been studying (and still am) Scottish dress throughout our period.  
I hope one day (soon) to put the fruits of my research into an article 
suitable for the TI, or if not, at least in a format I can have my 
college press bind together so I can sell or distribute in classes and such.
When Rosine mentioned tartans it reminded me of something that any 
Scottish persona in the SCA should know.  
Clan tartans are NOT period.
I can wear a plaid tunic, or cloak, or hat, etc., with no comment.  But 
when I wear my old 16th century great kilt, I always get asked "what 
tartan is that?"  Or I have people come up to me and say "I want to wear 
a great kilt, but I can never find my family's tartan..."
Specific tartans for clans were an inventioin of the Victoian era.  It 
was part of the movement to romantisize anything Scottish (much like the 
present day movement to romantisize anything Celtic).  Even Lowland and 
English families started claiming tartans and highland ancestors.  This 
is why you get tartans for families like "White" and "Miller."  Heck, my 
college even has it's tartan registered with the Scottish Tartan 
Society.  Truth is, in period, tartans were worn.  ("Plaid" is the Gaelic 
term for blanket-- which the kilt in its original form resembled; 
"tartan" is the criss-cross pattern we commonly call plaid today; "sett" 
is the specific pattern of the tartan).  We can document tartans in 
Scotland at least to the 14th century, and probably much earlier, 
depending on how you read contemporary descriptions.  (Tartans were not 
restricted to Scotland, however.  There are period Japanese paintings 
showing people wearing tartan patterns).  But in period, people chose 
what tartan they wore one three things:  1)what was available-- you could 
only purchase what the local weavers couldmake with their skill and dyes 
available.  2) What you liked.  3) What you could afford-- the more 
intricate the tartan, the higher the cost.  Likewise with expensive or 
rare dyes.  This is much the same way I picked the drab brown tartan of 
my great kilt off the discount table at my local fabric store.  So I 
picked my tartan in a very period way.  I tell people who are interested 
in wearing a great kilt not to worry about clan tartans.  If they want to 
try to find their family's tartan, great!  But they shouldn't feel like 
they have to for SCA purposes.
Ok, I've ranted on enough about tartans.  But I'd love to share more info 
on Scottish dress from any period.  If you have any questions, please 
feel free to ask!
Eogan Og MacLaren
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