Camelot International > Historic Roots
The History of Tartan
Originally, the Scottish Tartan was a distinction of rank or position. It was not identified by weave but by the number of colours in the weave. If only one colour was used it depicted a servant, two, a farmer rank, three, an officer rank, five, a chieftain, six for a poet, and seven for a Chief.
Eventually, clans or families adopted their own tartan, using a range of animal and earth colours which were frequently secret, only known to the weavers of the islands. They included yellows, blues, whites, greens, browns, reds, black and purple. Some say that a keen eye can identify the colour with a particular island, almost like a wine taster can identify the year and the vineyard.
Over time different types of tartans emerged:
Chief's Dress Sett - worn by the chief and members of his/her family.
The Clan Tartan - worn by members of the clan.
The Hunting Tartan - Fall colours worn by members of the clan.
Mourning Setts - self explanatory.
District Setts - regional, worn by anyone in that region.
The Womens Sett - usually black and white colours