Tartan

DEFINITION

A decoratively woven fabric of a plaid pattern (sometimes called a sett) which is associated with a community in Scotland; a clan or family, a district, military, commercial, or other organization. There is a long history to a few of these associations, but only since the early 19th century did they become popularly synonymous with particular clans or families. Scotland has long been a major producer of wool. Local manufacturers produced cloth for local people, resulting in each district's acquiring a style eventually regarded as its own. When a clan dominated a region, whether in the highlands or the lowlands, a tartan became associated with the leading clan. From the Romantic period of the early 1800s, there has been tremendous interest in the study of tartans as they relate to Scottish traditions. Designs have proliferated in the last two hundred years, with families and organizations creating tartans that never had them before. Variants on older tartans have often been created because they are intended for use in specific circumstances, while hunting (earthier colors) or on formal occasions (brighter colors) for instance. New designs are often hybrids of old designs, lending the flavor of the district of their origin.

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