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White tartans

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Several jigideers have beenstruggling with the darkness of the tartan puzzles so this one is deliberately featuring tartans/plaids with much lighter/white backgrounds or brighter colours. I hope you enjoy it.

ROW 1: Afternoon Tea / White Tea; Banff (White); Barbie's Moss Plaid (Blue & White); Alexander of Menstry Dress; Australian Spirit; Black and White
Row 2: Black and White Colourway; Black and White Golf; Erskine (Black and White); MacPherson of Cluny (Black and White); Lucky White Heather; Majewski-White (Personal)
Row 3: White Stripes, The Buchanan Dress; Buchanan Old Dress; Buckleigh Dress; Calgary Dress; Campbell of Cawdor Dress;
Row 4: Canmore Highland Games Dress; Carse of Gowrie Dress; Ch. Supt. Everett and Mrs Julene Summerfield Dress; Clackson Dress (Personal); Colomines, Nicolas Dress (Personal); Clayton Dress (Dance)

Dress tartans are based on the earasaid tartans worn by Highland women in the 17th and 18th centuries.[m] Dress tartans tend to be made by replacing a prominent colour with the colour white. They are commonly used today in Highland dancing. This Calgary Dress tartan is based on the original Calgary tartan that was registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority in 2002 and subsequently added to the Scottish Tartans Register as a legacy tartan (STR ref. 477). This tartan has been designed to commemorate the Canadian highland dancing championships held in Calgary in 2018, and to honour the highland dancers wearing dress tartans. The colours are significant to Calgary: red to represent Calgary; white and grey for the snow-capped Rocky mountains; black for the local oil industry; blue for the rivers; yellow for the prairie fields.

The belted plaid or the breacan-an-feileadh (pr: BRE-kan an Feelay) . . . the great kilt, appears to have been the characteristic dress of the Highlander from the late sixteenth century onwards and had probably been worn for quite some time before that over the saffron tunic - the main article of clothing worn by the Irish.
It was a loose garment made up of around six ells (18 feet/5 metres) of double tartan - Highland looms could only weave a maximum width of 25 to 30 inches (65 - 75 cms) so two lengths had to be sewn together down their long edge to make the plaid (from 'pladjer' - the Gaelic for blanket).

Historians have foisted onto us the idea that the Highlander laid this great expanse of fabric onto the ground and carefully folded it into pleats until its length was reduced to about 5 feet (1.5m). He then lay down on his back on top of it so that the bottom edge almost reached to his knees and gathered it around himself, securing it round his waist by a leather belt. He would then stand up and arrange the unpleated top portion around his shoulders, tucking the corners into his belt to form ingenious pockets.

Whilst this is a very entertaining performance for modern observers which produces a quite spectacular result, one wonders just how many of us - in our modern homes - have an unencumbered 18 by 5 feet (5.4m x 1.5m) space in any of our rooms to lay out our plaid? The procedure may well have been normal in the larger homes of the 'upper classes' of the times, but hardly the norm for the average Highlander living in a tiny blackhouse, often shared with his cattle. Performing the procedure outdoors on lumpy heather, muddy yard or wet grass with half a gale blowing, must hammer the last coffin nail into the idea!

The practical truth, based on common sense and a reasonable amount of documented evidence, tells us that on the inside of the plaid there was a series of loops, through which was threaded a cord. Dressing in it only required the Highlander to grab it off its wooden peg, tie it tightly around his waist, buckle his broad leather belt around the outside and arrange the surplus above the waist as he wished. There is also evidence that as an alternative, some wearers had external loops for the broad leather belt which seems a much more sensible solution to a problem that possibly only existed in the minds of modern commentators! It's interesting that in the French illustration below, the broad belt is shown in position on the outside of the plaid, not irrefutable proof, but interesting!

Info from Scottish Tartans Authority; Wikipedia
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Wow, that was hard but enjoyable! I'm enjoying this series!

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