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Thread: Kilts, tartans and clans

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    Senior Member Chookie's Avatar
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    Kilts, tartans and clans

    A great deal of time has been spent by a great many historians, commentators and authors on discussing the clan system in highland Scotland. A great deal more will, no doubt, be wasted in the future. What follows is nothing more than a (possibly somewhat jaundiced) view from the inside.


    Imagine, if you will, you are living in eighteenth century Europe and you become aware that there is a tribal society in full flower – in civilised Europe??? Shock, horror (et cetera, et cetera, ad bloody nauseum).....Is this not unthinkable?

    Well, no, it isn't, not really. To be aware of the existence of this society, you have to have the time and resources, not to mention money, and the inquiring mind (also known as nosey-bastardness) to hunt for this fact.

    Clans 101:-

    The clan (Gaelic: clann, meaning children) was, at the most basic level, a feudal arrangement in which the inhabitants of a district are given protection by a military “elite” in return for a (largeish) chunk of the inhabitants crops (this being the Norman-French model – which became the European norm). In the highlands of Scotland, and in Ireland to a lesser extent, feudalism developed differently.

    A clan became a self-sufficient and self-supporting association of people living in a specific district. Over time they intermarried, married-in and married-out until the majority of those a district considered themselves to be all of one family, from the poorest peasant or landless man, right up to the chief. Or, at least, such is the theory. However it's highly unlikely that everybody a specific district (any district) was related.

    Even so, this is not in any way descriptive of a clan. It's merely an attempt to put it in perspective. Possibly the biggest contrast to the Norman-French system is the fact that in the clan system the local capo d' capo tutti, became the focal point of the clan. Unlike feudalism in the rest of Europe, where the local big-wigs were, to an extent, interchangeable, in the Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland and Ireland they weren't, they were, basically primus inter pares. There was also the office of the taniste. This office can be described as a sort of apprentice chief.

    Walter Scott:

    Tartan is great. Or is it? Tartans as they are known to today are an invention of Sir Walter Scott – to celebrate the extremely unusual visit of King George IV (previously known as “Prinnie”, that same Prince George who claimed to have fought at Waterloo – he didn't) to Scotland in 1822 (the first time a “Royal” had been in Scotland since Charlie II pissed off Londonwards in sixteen hundred and whateveritwas).

    Walter Scott, and to a much greater extent, James MacPherson were largely responsible for the fascination with clans, kilts and tartans which still colour how the world sees Scotland (quaint, other-worldly and picturesque). Picturesque I will agree with...

    The Victorians took this fascination to an absurd length, inventing many new “ancient” tartans and inventive ways to wear them - can you say Brigadoon? Incidentally all that bull**** about Brigadoon is based on an old story about the mythical German village of Germelshausen that fell under an evil magic curse.

    Kilts:

    OK, being entitled to wear a kilt rocks.

    Really? Anybody can wear a bloody kilt. The wearing of either the Great kilt or the modern version the feile-beag or “little kilt” devised by Thomas Rawlinson, an ironmaster in Glenmoriston (and shock! horror! The ultimate insult!!! an Englishman!) isn't somehow magically reserved purely for those of purely Scottish blood. You'll be noticing that I didn't say invented although many people – Scots and non-Scots - claim the kilt was invented by an Englishman, they will not or cannot name him.

    Why did I say devised? Basically because the Egyptians wore a form of kilt (defining a kilt as an un-bifurcated garment which covers the wearer between waist and knee – which basically says it's a skirt). There is also a Pictish carving showing a man wearing just such a garment (he's also getting tore into a drinking horn, so no change there....)

    The Great Kilt (feile-mor) is different. It's a chunk of cloth measuring 54 inches or so in height and 7 or 8 yards in length. Being of closely woven wool it's a bit on the heavy side. The origins of the great kilt are lost in the mists of antiquity. At a stretch – admittedly, a long one – it may be related to the toga. If so, the method of wearing it was very different. To don the great kilt it is necessary to lay a belt out on the floor, take the kilt and lay out a series of pleats, lie down, haul the sides in and cross them over, fasten the belt then (if you can) stand up. This leaves you with big chunk of cloth to be distributed above the waist.........
    An ye harm none, do what ye will....

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    Senior Member luciferjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    the kilt,was a common mode of dress for the northern tribes, in the bc era,everyone from scotts,to germanics , even russians wore them, i guess it was easier then inventing pants?seriously it was common in the bc era,the longer version, it is my assumtion that the great kilt is just a logical spring and fall adaption,oh for others, i was kidding about the pants thing we germanics wore them in the winter, i believe all northern tribes did.

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    LIFE IS SHORT...LIVE HARD Nomad's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by luciferjohn View Post
    the kilt,was a common mode of dress for the northern tribes, in the bc era,everyone from scotts,to germanics , even russians wore them

    Were they cross dressing homosexuals?
    I AM AWESOME MAN

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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomad View Post
    Were they cross dressing homosexuals?
    Yes.

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    Senior Member Odie's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomad View Post
    Were they cross dressing homosexuals?
    watch it eh, I have my own Scottish tartan.

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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by Odie View Post
    watch it eh, I have my own Scottish tartan.

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    Senior Member Odie's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by oscar View Post
    stop laughing, I do have my own, so there!

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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by Odie View Post
    stop laughing, I do have my own, so there!
    Well, my family has a coat of arms.... does that count?

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    Senior Member Odie's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

    Quote Originally Posted by oscar View Post
    Well, my family has a coat of arms.... does that count?
    yes.........mine does to.

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    Senior Member luciferjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Kilts, tartans and clans

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    Quote Originally Posted by oscar View Post
    Well, my family has a coat of arms.... does that count?
    so does mine but i dont have a kilt, cant find one in a 56 inch waist

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