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  1. #1
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    Ponderings of an ancient Scot.

    Having read with considerable interest the thread about "Irish kilts" and the valid points from every point of view has caused a germ of a thought to take root in my mind. Now this could be a dangerous thing! However, this is in no way a "you must", or, "I am a Scot, so I am a tartan expert and I can tell the rest of the world how it should be done" type of thread.These are just suggestions for a talking point. No more no less. Alright, I am known as a defender of Scottish kilts and tartans and I have made no secret of that fact, I have also made it very clear that I am very flattered when a person from abroad wishes to wear the traditional kilt, properly. I do have a problem understanding why many different clan tartans need to be owned and worn by one individual, but lets let that pass. Now get to the point Jock! We have on this website people from all over the world wanting to wear the kilt. The thread on "Irish kilts" proves that there are some(?) Irish wishing to wear the kilt and of a connection to Ireland, GREAT! Does it matter how old the "Irish kilt" is? Does it matter whether the tartan design is 5 days old, or 5 centuries old? Does it matter if the kilt is plain cloth? Well to some it does, for various valid reasons, but that should not stop an Irishman from wearing the kilt if he wishes. Now let me expand these thoughts to the rest of the world. We have Americans, Canadians, Australians, French, New Zealanders, Norwegians, Dutch and the list goes on, that read and contribute here. GREAT! Now here is the crunch Question! "Is it now time for the non Scots to START to wear their own (non Scots) tartans?"I think, probably, its already started. There are countless tartans that represent State, military unit,Country, region and so on. If there is not a tartan that you can attach yourself to, I bet there is one some where, then wear a plain one,perhaps?Invent your own? I know many with Scots connections may be choking on their coffee when they read this,( sorry about that!) and I am not suggesting that their prized clan tartan kilt should not be worn, what I am suggesting and pondering is that over time, in many decades perhaps, as time distances Scots connections, then are we going to see more and more tartans that are more appropriate to the future kilt wearers' connections? For me,who will not be around to see it, I really hope that the kilt wearers of the future, with distant, or non Scots connections, will move on to new tartans and leave the clan tartans to the Scots. Thoughts ladies and gentlemen?
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 9th January 10 at 03:29 AM.

  2. #2
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    I am sorry every one, the post above started off life with distinct paragraphs. Some how, they seem to have disappeared!That was not my intention. Ho hum!

  3. #3
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    I have had similar toughts, I'm relatively new to kilts ( got my first one in '98 but didn't wear it often and then got my «clan» one before I knew much about it just because I wanted it and then learned a lot about highland wear and contemporary wear (mostly from this site.... thank you all).

    I now feel different. if I want a new kilt and it is a universal or district tartan, ok, I would buy it. If it is a clan,family, club,company.... tartan, i will seek permission, tell them why I am attracted to that tartan. I could be seen like an idiot and they might not even care. But I do. They might not want me to get one, it could happen and I would respect that. It might also be a good way to meet new people and make new friends (ok friends might be a bit to much, at least new acquaintances (not too sure about spelling)) In that way, that peticular kilt would have a personal story behind it, some meaning, it would make it just that much special. I could create a tartan if I had enough time and money (which I don't). Kilt wearing makes me feel good, I take better care of how I dress, how I appear in public. Am I scot? No. Do I want to be scot? Not really. Do I have other links to scotland other than on my mother's side? Maybe. Do I want to wear only can related tartans? No.
    Am I starting to highjack this thread? Maybe and I am sorry about that if I am. But I think you understand what I mean.

    Now to the rest of the rabble...
    Eric

    "Bones, Spock, Kirk - They were three different people from three different places. Especially Spock."

  4. #4
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    be da veva.

    Your reply is just the sort I wanted and of course you are not hijacking the thread. I understand what you have said and your view is as valid as the next person's. Thank you.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 11th January 10 at 07:15 AM.

  5. #5
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Jock,

    As you said, this is already happending to a large extent. You have tartans now for countries, states, towns, counties, regions, clubs, organizations, etc., etc., outwith Scotland. Some of these are novelties. Some are quite popular. Some are officially recognized. Others are fashion designs. It is indeed happening.

    But is it ever likely to outpace the popularity of the traditional Scottish clan tartan in kilt wearers world wide? I doubt it.

    The reason boils down to why people choose to wear the kilt. Now there are people (many on this forum) who wear the kilt because they like to wear the kilt, irrespective of what Scottish ancestry they may or may not have. They would wear the kilt if they were Scottish, Irish, English, Japanese, or South American. They just like the kilt. If this is your approach to kilt wearing, discovering that there is a tartan for your native country, state, town, etc., may be seen as a great way that you can participate in the tradition of tartan wearing without stepping on the toes of a Scottish clan you bear no relation to.

    On the other hand, I would say that the great majority of people who don the kilt do so primarily for reasons of honoring and celebrating their Scottish heritage. And for these folks, the tartan of their anscestral clan (whether those ties be direct or more round-about) will be their first choice. Now these folks may very well be interested in a kilt in their state or town tartan as a second kilt. But their first option will be for their traditional clan tartan.

    I certainly think there is room for both in the kilt-wearing world. And there is a place for purely fashion tartans that are generic and don't pretend to represent anything. I enjoy wearing my Highland Granite kilt -- I like it for the color scheme. But it doesn't have the same meaning or connection for me as does my Armstrong tartan kilt, which makes me think of my grandmother every time I put it on.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    I am sorry every one, the post above started off life with distinct paragraphs. Some how, they seem to have disappeared!That was not my intention. Ho hum!
    And here I was thinking senility had finally set in...

    Jock, I think the non-Scots tartans were partly designed with the intent that anyone could wear them. Americans have a need to belong to something - which is one reason we have some many differerent clubs, associations, societies, etc, and we like to wear the group's crest, symbol or insignia.

    However, I suspect that those who are of Scottish descent, no matter how distant, will probably continue to find their "clan" tartan to wear. I've noted that many Americans, probably because we are all relatively new-comers to the continent, have a need to identify with their past - they want to know where their family came from before getting off the boat.

    There is something about the Scots that is very appealing and thus many Americans want to find some kind of connection, no matter how tenuous, so they can wear their "clan" tartan. If they can link themselves to more than one clan, so much the better.

    I can understand and appreciate your sentiments, but I doubt it'll happen. In fact, I would suggest just the opposite - as people become more distant from their past the need to identify with it will become stronger. But the non-clan tartans, particularly those that are associated with organizations, such as the US military tartans, will also grow in popularity.
    Virginia Commissioner, Elliot Clan Society, USA
    Adjutant, 1745 Appin Stewart Regiment
    Adjutant, Post 2, Scottish-American Military Society
    US Marine (1970-1999)

  7. #7
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    Being only a semi-traditionalist I can appreciate the use of all tartans and kilts. However, I feel that so many "clans" aren't clans anymore - and therefore a name is just a name.
    For example, my surname is carried over from a female bloodline. So I will never know my "proper clan" unless I find out who my grandfather's father was. Even then I wouldn't feel a proper connection - and wouldn't feel correct wearing the associated tartan of that clan (if there was one).

    Many people understand a Scottish-Irish connection to be extreme and the two terms are almost interchangeable. For parts of Scotland - such as the Gaels I would agree that there is a great Irish connection, just as there are many Irish immigrants throughout Scotland, though, specifically in the West in recent decades. Many of the Scottish clans are formed around Irish surnames.

    As far as solid colour tartans, my personal view is that as long as someone is wearing A kilt and wearing it well I can appreciate the action. My opinions follow onto non-Scots tartans, where I believe that if a tartan symbolises something - even just the person liking the design, then they have a personal right to wear it. However, I can appreciate when traditionalists will state that those of only a direct connection should wear it. As far as universal tartans, I think they're great. I don't think anyone could argue about someone wearing the Scottish National simply to honor Scotland, even if they have no direct connections to our country. I love the idea of modern district tartans as people can very much associate with them - as we regularly witness on the forum.

    To summarise - if anyone wears a kilt, I'm happy that they're wearing a kilt. As far as tartan history, fashion tartans, solid colours go; as long as they're happy with it then I'm happy with it!
    It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

  8. #8
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    Jock, I really do think you're on to something, but I think it will evolve over generations. My own experience is that I came to kilts by looking back. I love the study of genealogy and am the one in my family who digs and records and keeps the archives; it's a fascination that began when my age could be reckoned in single digits. And I couldn't look back along my family lines without my gaze turning to Scotland.

    But a tree isn't just made up of roots and the older I get (and the more grandchildren I collect!) I've begun to think more and more about the branches, especially the ones that will grow when I'm long gone. It is my hope that my progeny will take interest in their roots, and will know their heritage that so strongly features Scotland. I'll want them to know the names, the places and yes, the clan connections. "Grandpa's old kilt" will have a story connected to it and it will keep alive for them a connection to the home of many of their immigrant ancestors. But they will be descendants of people who left Scotland and came to these shores. And the family story on this side of the pond is compelling, too.

    I've more and more had the impulse to create a tradition that would reflect our family's specific journey and its roots now, here in Savannah, a city that is rich with history in its own right (with many Scots playing a key role in the city's birth, I might add). What better way to do that than by creating a tartan that reflects our own history and our ties to this place?

    I've been working on that very thing and when finances allow, I will be registering, weaving and kilting up what I hope will be the first of many items in the family's own tartan. While you would have a hard time separating me from my Scottish kilts, I would suspect that my children and grandchildren will one day venerate them as a family relic, but be more interested in wearing the tartan that reflects their home.

  9. #9
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    Let me throw a small, yet honest curve at you.

    I am 99% positive the reason the US State tartans aren't more widely worn is b/c of PRICE (and some, aesthetics). I say this b/c I've seen it time after time after time in my shop. Someone comes in with a picture of the Pennsylvania State Tartan and asks for a kilt. I tell them the price of an 'standard' tartan kilt and what the Special Weave Pennsylvania State Tartan will cost and they choose the former.

    There is only 1 mill, to the best of my knowledge, that produces ANY stock state tartans... and only California and Texas. The other 48 states (at least the ones that have tartans) get left out b/c of smaller population or whatever. That leaves the potential kilt wearer with 1 option... Special Weave which is about 20% or more ABOVE the higher priced kilts we offer.

    Also, I've seen the collection of US State tartans on Matt's website. Some are very nice, others are just plain hideous (I wouldn't wear it even if it WAS my state tartan).

    If the mills (or even 1 mill) would produce a range of US State Tartans (much like they did with the Irish County tartans), I'm sure that there would be LOADS of takers here in the states. Until that time, they will all be special weave and they will all take a back seat to 'lower priced' wool tartans like clans and many Universals.

    I do like the idea... now we just have to get the mill(s) convinced that there's a MARKET for such tartans here in the US.

  10. #10
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    Jock, you have started an interesting thread. I think Matt and Sir William have made well the point; we of Scottish ancestry especially with a surname with a clan tartan will strongly want to wear a kilt with that tartan. It will be our first and most favored.

    Second for me and following your train of thought is my XMarks tartan kilt. As beautiful a tartan it is, the affinity I feel for this forum gives me great pride to wear it which is reinforced every time I met a fellow XMarker!
    Last edited by Mael Coluim; 9th January 10 at 08:02 AM.

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