Tartan is a distinctive pattern crafted by weaving coloured threads that intersect at right angles. This fabric is primarily fashioned from wool and is renowned for its suitability in creating fashionable suits, dresses, and skirts. Originating from Scotland, tartan patterns hold a significant place in the country's traditional heritage.
The term "tartan" in English and Scottish may have its origins in the French word "tiretaine," which refers to a fabric made from a blend of linen and wool. There are also alternative theories about the word's etymology. Some suggest it could be linked to Scottish Gaelic words like "tarsainn" or "tarsuinn," signifying "across" or "crossing over." Another possibility is that it traces back to French terms such as "tartarin" or "tartaryn," with records as early as 1454 spelled as "tartyn," possibly alluding to "Tartar cloth."
Traditional tartan cloth is typically created using a closely woven 2/2 twill weave pattern using worsted wool. In this weaving technique, the horizontal weft threads pass over two vertical warp threads and then under two, progressing one thread with each pass. This staggered arrangement ensures that each warp thread intersects with two weft threads as they cross each other in the fabric.
One of the most popular tartans is the Royal Stewart, ostensibly the personal tartan of the British monarch, since George IV declared it his own .The "royal" sett was first published in 1831 in the book The Scottish Gaël by James Logan.
In the broader fashion industry, there exist several patterns that are technically tartans but aren't considered as such in the traditional clan or district context. For example, the simple red-and-black Rob Roy or Robert Roy MacGregor pattern, which is the oldest among Clan Gregor's designs, is widely utilized in flannel fabrics for clothing and bedding. In the United States, this pattern is frequently referred to as "buffalo plaid," though the exact origin of this term is uncertain.
In Scotland, every clan typically has at least one tartan fabric design associated with their name.
The Scottish Register of Tartans, established in 2008, serves as a system for the official registration and preservation of tartan designs.
The Royal Stewart Tartan is the most famous and widely recognized royal tartan. It is closely linked with the British royal family and was the personal tartan of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
There are approximately 3,500 different tartans in existence in modern times, and even more if you consider various variants and adaptations.
Tartan Day is an annual event observed on April 6th in North America.
The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing tartan was established in 2019, with 1,359 individuals coming together in Kenora, Canada, wearing a variety of tartan patterns.
The oldest known "true tartan" was discovered preserved in a bog near Glen Affric, and it has been dated to around the years 1500-1600 AD.
At Anuprerna, we integrate a variety of tartan designs to elevate the fabric's elegance. Using traditional handlooms, we meticulously explore each tartan design and pattern in a distinctive manner.
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