Gheibhte breacain charnaid (‘Scarlet Tartans Would be Got …’): the Re-invention of Tradition

Hugh Cheape

in From Tartan to Tartanry

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638772
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653539 | DOI:
Gheibhte breacain charnaid (‘Scarlet Tartans Would be Got …’): the Re-invention of Tradition

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This chapter discusses the origins and accounts of the history of tartans. It notes that tartan's role had extended beyond the Highland dress of a post-Romantic era with its formalities of different styles to Celtic couture fashion and upholstery and décor fabric. It points out that it would be unreliable to insist on tartan as a mark of Scottish identity. It opines that this element of history, like many others, showed that, though ethnic identity can be reliably investigated in anthropological discourse, it must be contingent and changeable rather than fixed and scriptural, emerging from or within particular social circumstances and chronologies. It further opines that the modern denunciation and disavowal of tartan mischievously draws a veil across, and denies an up-to-date view of, certain vital strands in Scottish history and material culture, and particularly the Renaissance rhetoric of textiles.

Keywords: tartans; Highland dress; Scottish identity; Renaissance

Chapter.  7698 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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