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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    The OP's question, though, wasn't about military uniforms or tactics. It was about hunting/stalking, sleeping in the open, and hiding. Not by uniformed soldiers, but by average civilian Highlanders.

    I would tend to think that camouflage would be a natural benefit of tartans made with natural dyes. The Highlands do have a lot of colour in certain times of the year, and even bright tartans might blend in. As to whether they purposefully made their tartans with this in mind, though, I wot not.
    You missed my point entirely, which was camouflage was not a common concept prior to the mid-19th century. Tartan may have provided that capability, but it was not the intent when the weaver the his dyes. He used what dyes he could obtain.
    Virginia Commissioner, Elliot Clan Society, USA
    Adjutant, 1745 Appin Stewart Regiment
    Adjutant, Post 2, Scottish-American Military Society
    US Marine (1970-1999)

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  3. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir William View Post
    You missed my point entirely, which was camouflage was not a common concept prior to the mid-19th century. Tartan may have provided that capability, but it was not the intent when the weaver the his dyes. He used what dyes he could obtain.
    It's fascinating to think that people who leveraged technology into world wide empires couldn't even conceptualize hiding from a stag, or an enemy. Especially since such things were long known to many of the other peoples of the world.

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  5. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir William View Post
    You missed my point entirely, which was camouflage was not a common concept prior to the mid-19th century. Tartan may have provided that capability, but it was not the intent when the weaver the his dyes. He used what dyes he could obtain.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bamamedic View Post
    It's fascinating to think that people who leveraged technology into world wide empires couldn't even conceptualize hiding from a stag, or an enemy. Especially since such things were long known to many of the other peoples of the world.
    This suggests that Highlanders had a good understanding of the concept:

    "They delight in variegated garments, especially stripes, and their favorite colours are purple and blue. Their ancestors wore plaids of many colours, and numbers still retain this custom, but the majority now in their dress prefer a dark brown, imitating the leaves of the heather that, when lying on the heath in the the day they may not be discovered by the appearance of their clothes; in these rather than covered, they brave the severe storms in the open air, and sometimes lay themselves down to sleep in the midst of the snow."

    The Habits of the Highlanders, George Buchanan, 1582
    https://books.google.com.au/books?id...page&q&f=false
    Last edited by Bruce Scott; 5th April 17 at 03:03 PM.

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  7. #14
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    My thoughts in red below...

    Quote Originally Posted by Derekc5555 View Post
    I've heard from several different sources that before the invention of modern dyes pre-Culloden highlanders would use natural dyes (obviously, no modern dyes) from plants and their surroundings to get a very natural and earthy color to their tartans. It is always interesting to see how "scholars" interpret individual facts and observations to come to their conclusions.
    Often times they apply their way of thinking to a totally different era and come up with inaccurate results. Yes,
    the natural dyes did include the colors of the woodlands but they also included many brighter colors.
    So, you can't assume that just because your color palette is based on browns and greens that your goal
    was to make things blend in with the woods. The palette also included bright reds and yellows
    which were also used to great effect.
    They would use this as camouflage while sleeping in the brush, hunting, or hiding from the British. I am sure that the average Scot realized that dressing in browns, grays, and greens would make it harder to be noticed in the woods, regardless of what you were doing there...hunting, sneaking up on an enemy, or just trying to get away from the angry father of the bonnie lassie you just left with a smile on her face.

    Is this true? Do tartans actually serve as effective camouflage? Has anyone tested, tried or use them as such? If so, which tartan, and how did you use it? Pictures would be great!Most definitely! I am a hunter and oftentimes will just wear a plaid shirt or jacket as my only camouflage and it works very well. Men and women have been hunting and killing deer and other game in black and red plaid for decades before WWII when camo came to the fore as a military item. The important thing, as noted by the disappearing snowman story, is to avoid fast movements. The color helps but isn't necessary when you are being watched from more than 20 yards away.

    Thanks, Derek.
    The hielan' man he wears the kilt, even when it's snowin';
    He kens na where the wind comes frae, But he kens fine where its goin'.

  8. #15
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    I am trying to find the study, done a few years ago on effective camo patterns. It turned out that larger blocks with strong contrast, to break up patterns, was quite effective even in bright colors. IIRC, Loud MacLeod tartan turned out to be better camo at over 100 meters than the then current US Army digital camo with small blocks of low contrast green brown and grey. The human eye and brain is programmed to see certain patterns, such as human shapes, and camo has to break up that pattern.
    Geoff Withnell

    "My comrades, they did never yield, for courage knows no bounds."
    No longer subject to reveille US Marine.

  9. #16
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    I am not getting into camouflage or not, historical or not. I do dislike the idea that pre-modern dyes were drab as this is proven to be a false statement. Certainly drab colours can be produced, as can bright.

    This all said... here is a fun anecdote. When I was in college, our dorm went "paint-balling." One chap from 3rd floor was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, which most folks found to be quite the laugh. Their laughing stopped when they found that he was the best camouflaged man in the woods. The assorted bright colors, in their odd formation, created a nice break up of his body shape and surprisingly blended in quite well.
    Vestis virum reddit

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  11. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacW View Post
    I am not getting into camouflage or not, historical or not.
    Ahhhh man, it could be a reenactment of The Second Librarian War, and doing it here, about as appropriate as reenacting Dettingen in Indiana! LOL

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  13. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir William View Post
    You missed my point entirely, which was camouflage was not a common concept prior to the mid-19th century. Tartan may have provided that capability, but it was not the intent when the weaver the his dyes. He used what dyes he could obtain.
    The "camouflage" we think of today, with fabric woven or dyed into random patterns, was indeed a foreign concept. But the art of camouflage, or blending into one's environment for stealth, goes back to the earliest humans and is found all throughout nature. There is no reason to think that Scots were oblivious to this in the 18th century, and indeed historical evidence suggests that they took advantage of it well.

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  15. #19
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    The belief that natural dyes are dull and chemical are bright is a misapprehension of the process and the nature of the chemicals.
    Natural dyes ARE chemical dyes, just chemicals that appear in nature. Modern dyes tend to be lab chemicals. Either set can yield
    both bright and dull colors, per the choice of the dyer. Another major factor is the mordant used. The same dye on the same fabric
    can yield completely different colors, or different hues of the same color by the use of a different mordant. Or the same mordant
    with a different pot. Or no mordant, just a different pot, in which case the metal in the pot can act as a mordant. Very old and
    sometimes complicated technology, but no less effective than how it's done today. Easier today, maybe, but the old ways still work.

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  17. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    The "camouflage" we think of today, with fabric woven or dyed into random patterns, was indeed a foreign concept. But the art of camouflage, or blending into one's environment for stealth, goes back to the earliest humans and is found all throughout nature. There is no reason to think that Scots were oblivious to this in the 18th century, and indeed historical evidence suggests that they took advantage of it well.
    Can I suggest that you study Scottish "Estate Tweeds" and you will find that the Lovat tweed was possibly the first cloth deliberately woven as a camouflage cloth in 1845 for the Estate stalkers. Ever since Estate tweeds have blossomed and even the wildest of patterns and colours work well as camouflage for specific parts of Scotland.

    There was a book published by, Johnstons of Elgin called Scottish Estate Tweeds, that you may find enlighening.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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