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  1. #1
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    30th June 04
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    Why, or how, did the kilt come about?

    Ladies and gentlemen:

    Do we have any idea how and why the kilt came about?

    The leine and brat preceded the kilt, I know, and the leine started off as a tunic (a very basic homo sapiens costume) and developed into a more elaborate tunic/shirt kind of combo.

    It simply seems strange to me that anyone would go from a highly structured garment (i.e., the leine) to the great kilt. Who thinks, "I'll abandon this traditional mode of attire and wrap myself in a blanket?"

    I'd be surprised if anyone today really knows what compelled the development of the kilt---indeed, at times it seems that we know almost nothing at all of the past---but I wanted to ask anyway.

    Now I'll go wrap myself in a blanket and see if anyone has an answer!

  2. #2
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    6th July 07
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    Contrary to popular belief, I was not around in those days.So, sorry old chap, I have not a helpful clue, I am afraid.

  3. #3
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    Some teenage Scotman in the day started a new fad.

  4. #4
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    It always struck me as just the sort of thing a man would wear while running from a jealous husband. Get chased far enough into the wood, and it may be all you've got for a while.....
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

  5. #5
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    8th June 04
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    Simply put, the Celts and other Northern Europeans were trouser-wearers. But, the Celts in the Scottish Highlands had to deal with wet, boggy, steep terrain and bare legs are easier to dry than trousered legs, and who wants to wear wet trousers 24/7? Plus, they weren't horsemen in the Highlands like the Celts elsewhere - another reason to not need trousers....
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  6. #6
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    15th October 09
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    Well...this dude was wearing pants and felt kinda restricted, so he just went from there...

  7. #7
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    Woodsheal:

    I understand about not needing trousers! It's the transition from the leine to the kilt that flabbergasts me. Matt's article on the leine indicated that it was "hike-uppable"---a long tunic that could be raised up to/above the knee and belted in place.

    Sometimes I think the past is like a pointillist picture---there are a few dots in place, and we rely on our mind's eye to fill in the blanks and create a coherent picture.

    I can imagine a combination of KDBurke and Jack Daw's suggestions. "So," says Jock, "there I was in Mistress Graham's bower, when suddenly the Graham himself returned! What did I do? Why, I grabbed my brat and hied myself thither, at speed. My leine, I had to leave it behind . . . . and so I wrapped my brat about myself, and came back a-home."

  8. #8
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    6th July 07
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    No! It was not me, honest!

  9. #9
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    17th March 07
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    I think necessity is the mother of invention and no, I'm not original in that thought!

    In my way of thinking about this, the shirt worn was the basic piece of clothing and was a long shirt, really more like a tunic in itself. I have read that poor folk might have only had a shirt/tunic as their only piece of clothing. The great kilt is/was essentially a blanket that people adapted to carry around with them all of the time. It served as a piece of clothing, providing warmth and protection from the elements and frankly is very versatile in that regard; hanging down it is not as warm, wrapped around the torso it provides warmth, up over the head it protects from precipitaion, etc. Being creative with the arrangements of the upper folds it provides storage space to carry things. When it was time to bed down it was a blanket, mattress, tarp/tent, etc.

    I think we forget that up until a couple of hundred years ago, most people spent the greatest portion of their lives outdoors and for many people shelter was very basic. Plenty of men would have lived a good portion of their lives in the field, tending flocks, hunting, etc. As Woodsheal pointed out, the Highlanders were not a horse culture and would not have required a bifurcated garment and wearing a functional garment made of material that dried easily while living in a wet environment would have come about pretty naturally.

    I think the problem we have in conceptualizing this is that we try to reconstruct the logic going backwards confronted now with more of a fashionable garment that evolved from a garment of necessity. Indeed as time went on, fashion and art began to play a role in the development of the kilt, as it does with most things in peoples' lives as evidenced from the oldest artifacts we have of human civilizations.
    Ken

    "The best things written about the bagpipe are written on five lines of the great staff" - Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE

  10. #10
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    8th March 09
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    it came about from necessity... read the thread posted by kilted kiwi about the blanket shawl/kilt (a comparison of usage).. movement in a wet climate, pants were a hinderance..a garment evolved by the working society.. and by lovers... lol but sometimes what is seen as a digression to some, is a step forward by others.. and for the environment, it was/is well suited.

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