When you are thinking about Scotland and Scottish people what is the first thing that appears in your mind? Probably beautiful landscape, bagpipes, blankets, kilts. But did you ever wonder that there is something even smaller but known and used on the whole world? It's a pattern that is known as tartan.
Tartan is connected inseparably with Celtic culture, especially with Scottish one. This striped pattern is existing in this culture from 3rd century. But some scientists say that it is even older and tartan as a material was invented thousands years ago. In North America it is known as plaid but in Scotland it usually means a tartan cloth, a blanket or one of wool blankets in a tartan pattern.
The name of it probably comes from french word 'tiretaine' and back then referred to a part wool, part linen material. The first time when it was concerned more as pattern than a material was in XVII century. It got also special meaning the next century when the great battle of Culloden happened. In this century the myth that each clan has its own pattern became alive. Before that, the government force of the Highland Independent Companies introduced a standardised tartan chosen to avoid association with any particular clan. After the battle the habit of wearing tartan was banned in order to stamp out the rebellious culture of the Scottish highlands. Tartans weren't banned only for militaries. The company that become well known from producing the tartan not only for military was William Wilson. The mass production of tartan led to a wide supply of consistent patterns, and idea to name the patterns after Scottish towns. This led to the notion that the tartan designs belonged to certain parts of the land.
Nowadays tartans are registered by clans, families, institutions. They usually vary in amount of stripes and colours, but the pattern is always the same: crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands.
Also the pattern has great usage in world fashion on the highest level. Famous people likes to be seen in tartan clothes. Not only in classic colours but in pink perhaps. Celebrities like Paris Hilton and Victoria Beckham wore a more up-to-date version of the old mini- a knee-length tartan pencil skirt. And they looked great! And every time when the "Braveheart" is on TV the kilt hire UK is increasing. Many people want to look like Mel Gibson in its tartan kilt. Of course, the truth is that if it comes to fashion it is a matter of taste. And some people don't like tartan clothes and in many cases they think that this is to Celdish wear. Usually make funny of tartan trousers in a women version. But I'm sure they wouldn't have anything against delicate long or short dress in tartan pattern. And those people are usually OK with men in kilts, not thinking about this piece of clothes as a skirt but even more important piece of cloth than trousers (not only Mel Gibson's fans).
Still tartan is recognized as a specific Scottish element. When Christmas is close shops are usually full of stuff with this pattern. And the most popular Scottish gifts are tartan ties-for him, tartan scarves-for her, and of course kilts-not only for adult one. Tartan kilt is also a great present to surprise a child. Especially if it loves Celtic culture and myths. Having a few things with tartan pattern will easily bring back the Scottish culture and history.