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Highland Dress

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soup
766987.  Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:31 pm Reply with quote


Me (feeling no pain) at my wedding. I would hardly call that traditional dress . Short kilt (yes I am entitled to wear McGregor tartan 'S rioghal mo dhream ), prince Charlie jacket, ghillie brogues, garter flashes, plastic handled sgian-dubh (other sock); highland dress my arse.





Closer, but still no cigar (those T shirts). The boots too seem fairly modern equivalents, a pavement/soft 20th century feet concession?



More like it.
These are re-enactors (clanranald) so can be quite anal about getting things right (they will have read more than one book).

 
dr.bob
767068.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:45 am Reply with quote

GRAMPAR wrote:
The full text can be read in The Celtic Review 1913/14 from page 290 the author being one J. Reoch.


Having read that article (if can be found here if anyone is interested), I find it remarkably unconvincing.

The author reproduces the description of "blew woolen wascotts. blew woolen bonnets a paire of bases of plad and stockings of the same, pumpes on theire feet and a plad thrown over theire left shoulder" and claims that it "clearly points" to the fact that the kilt and the shoulder plaid are being worn as separate garments.

Errr, does it? Could've fooled me. As Neo mentioned upthread, that quote sounds like a pretty good description of the Féileadh Mòr, or full kilt.

The article also produces a report from Thomas Kirk in 1677 who describes "A sort of breeches, not unlike a petticoat, that reaches not so low, by far, as their knees, and their stockings are rolled up about the calves of the legs, and tied with a garter, their knee and thigh being naked . . . a plaid over the left shoulder and under the right arm". This is again produced as evidence of the kilt and plaid as separate garments. Sorry, but I'm still not seeing it.

Ironically, the author rubbishes a "frequently quoted passage" from John Taylor as "scarcely clear enough to justify one in assuming that he refers to the use of the fèileadh beag at that time" noting that "if his description is intended to apply to the belted plaid, it seems strange that he does not mention its most characteristic feature, the belting of the plaid in folds round the waist". This strikes me as something of an own goal, since none of the quotes that the author produces as evidence of the existence of the fèileadh beag mention this most characteristic feature either.

All in all, the entire article smacks of someone desperate to prove a point and using whatever slight evidence he can come by.

GRAMPAR wrote:
As far as each clan having their own distinct tartan this is probably a Victorian invention but tartan, the word probably coming from the Vikings, most certainly was around for many centuries before Victoria came to the throne.


As, indeed, was mentioned on the show.

GRAMPAR wrote:
We may or may not be the first to wear the feileadh-beag but those of us Scots with Highland blood are proud to wear it after all I have yet to see an English or indeed a Sassenach national dress.


I don't think the English have a national dress. Still, I always admire the Scots for accepting transvestism as their national dress. It shows a nation with a very tolerant, open-minded approach to people.

 
dr.bob
767069.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:46 am Reply with quote

soup wrote:
yes I am entitled to wear McGregor tartan


Have you learned nothing, man? This whole "entitled to wear such-and-such a tartan" is all complete nonsense invented by the Victorians.

 
exnihilo
767076.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:53 am Reply with quote

I've stayed out of this one, because there's nothing that seems to arouse greater ire than telling certain Scots that some of our cherished tartan and kilts heritage isn't nearly as old as we'd like to believe.

I read it too, and I've read other similar things. I too find it unconvincing, and I agree with the position put forward by the elves, it being the one supported by all the historical evidence.

That said, as I make this "blissfully ignorant" foray into things Scottish I am only a Scotsman who teaches Scottish history at a Scottish university, so I could be way off.

 
Sadurian Mike
767078.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:57 am Reply with quote

soup wrote:
These are re-enactors (clanranald) so can be quite anal about getting things right (they will have read more than one book).

And gawd bless 'em.

Reenactors are a godsend to military historians interested in domestic detail. Not only do they do their own research a damned sight more thoroughly than many historians (as Soup mentions), but they also show how humans will adapt and adopt styles of dress and acoutrements.

If a modern reenactor decides that it is more comfortable and convenient to wear his ammunition pouch a certain way, you can bet that the original soldiers would have come to the same conclusion.

Of course, it is more of a problem when the 1st Foot Guards are mainly gentlemen over 50 with glasses and beer-bellies. Sometimes you do need to put the blinkers on.

 
Spud McLaren
767079.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:00 am Reply with quote

OK, it's Wiki, but
Quote:
A witness of the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie describes "McDonnell's men in their triple stripes"[...] From 1725 the government force of the Highland Independent Companies introduced a standardised tartan chosen to avoid association with any particular clan...

...which would imply that the clan association had at least started by then, wouldn't it?

 
Sadurian Mike
767081.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:08 am Reply with quote

Spud McLaren wrote:
OK, it's Wiki, but
Quote:
A witness of the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie describes "McDonnell's men in their triple stripes"[...] From 1725 the government force of the Highland Independent Companies introduced a standardised tartan chosen to avoid association with any particular clan...

...which would imply that the clan association had at least started by then, wouldn't it?

Just a thought.

Isolated Highland clans would presumably have their own weavers who made much of their own woollen clothing (the kilts, for example). If this is true, then it is likely that a few patterns and colour schemes would become common to that clan, and maybe become distinctive enough that "outsiders" would associate that pattern and colour scheme with that clan.

Just a thought.

 
exnihilo
767082.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:11 am Reply with quote

And a pretty sound one.

 
Spud McLaren
767084.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:12 am Reply with quote

Maybe - seems likely. But it does make me wonder whether the idea was starting to catch on with other clans - "Ooh, look what they're doing! We could do that..."

Just conjecture, though, really.

 
Sadurian Mike
767085.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:20 am Reply with quote

Well, pushing the idea further, I am assuming that the idea of adding a coloured stripe or band wasn't new.

What would be different, however, would be the particular combination of stripes and colours. If the MacSweeneys'* weavers primarily use combination X, but the MacBurgers' weavers use combination Y, then it wouldn't take long for their clans to be recognised by the "tartan" they wore.

So, whilst there is no official clan tartan, there is an associated one.


*Very old family**.

**Pratchett joke.

 
soup
767090.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:28 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
soup wrote:
yes I am entitled to wear McGregor tartan


Have you learned nothing, man? This whole "entitled to wear such-and-such a tartan" is all complete nonsense invented by the Victorians.


I was born long after the Victorian era so I count stuff from this era as tradition (all traditions have to start sometime).
I fully realise all "this tartan denotes such and such a clan" is bollocks but give this is pre me so will go with this .

Aside:- You just have to think of what dyes were available to realise this tartan denotes such and such a clan is bollocks. White isn't white (or rather it wasn't) it was just undyed wool. I feel the associations of specific clans with certain tartans (drab and plain versions of the modern ones) came about much as Mike said this was then embelished into some very garish patterns in the Victorian era.

 
mckeonj
767122.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:11 am Reply with quote

This may be relevant to the 'Highland Dress' controversy:
1. The Highland Scots were Irish
2. The Irish were organised in septs, which were an association of people bound by strong family loyalty; some were servants or retainers of the head. The head of the sept was called e.g. The O'Dunevin (of Dunevin).
3. Some members of a sept would foray abroad to gain land, cattle, and people. So, for example, some members of my ancestry, the macEoins of Leitrim, went across the water and gained land in the Highlands, where they settled and became the Gentle Johnstone clan.
4. In the fishing communities of the West of Ireland and the Arran Isles, the men wore knitted woolen gansies (sweaters to you) which had a distinctive pattern, for example a cable stitch; the patterns were specific to a particular family.
5. It is quite likely that similar distinctive patterns were incorporated into cloth woven for that family in the inland regions.

 
dr.bob
767131.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:17 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Reenactors are a godsend to military historians interested in domestic detail. Not only do they do their own research a damned sight more thoroughly than many historians (as Soup mentions), but they also show how humans will adapt and adopt styles of dress and acoutrements.


Within certain limits, I'd imagine.

Most of the reading I've done about proper Highland dress mentions that it involved an awful lot of cloth which was quite heavy. This was quite encumbering for the Highlanders if they were going into battle so, apparently, the tradition was for them to take off their kilt, lay it down neatly in their camp, then go into battle naked from the waist down.

Now sure how many re-enactors would get away with that kind of behaviour :)

 
Flash
767133.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:37 am Reply with quote

exnihilo wrote:
I am only a Scotsman who teaches Scottish history at a Scottish university

... which we knew, come to think of it - so now I can't figure out why we didn't consult you at the time.

 
scottydog
767141.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:16 pm Reply with quote

I have just read the thread authors 4 posts - and ther seems to be a theme.

I am beginning to think that there is an original tartan where a chip is thrown over one shoulder ...

 

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