Kilts: tightly woven into Scots culture
FEW COUNTRIES around the world have a garment as closely associated with its national origin as Scotland and the kilt. For several centuries, the kilt has evolved to become a symbol of Scottish pride and identity, a piece of clothing strongly associated with the country’s historic past and colourful culture.
Initially, the kilt simply consisted of a long length of cloth gathered in folds around a belt with the excess material thrown over the shoulder. This made for a simple and practical garment that was warm, versatile and hard-wearing. It also made for an excellent "combat" uniform since it provided freedom of manoeuvre to its wearer, served as effective camouflage and could be shed rapidly if necessary.
The precisely defined, multi-coloured range of tartan seen today would have been unknown before the 19th century. Most of the early patterns bearing clan names can only be traced to the early 1800s and to the weaving firm of William Wilson of Bannockburn.
Most tartan patterns before the mid-18th century would have been of a regional nature based on local materials and natural dyes, and much mixing of colours and styles would have been the norm since there appeared to be no set rules to what a man might wear.
Although a ban of the kilt in the mid-18th century led to it being rarely seen worn in the Highlands, it soon became a symbol to many Lowlanders, including some English, of a romantic Scottish past with noble savages roaming the beautiful land. People that had once been viewed with fear, distaste and hatred before 1746, now became object of nostalgia once their power was broken. In reality, the actual people of the north were being subjected to the indignities of the Highland Clearances and were in many cases abandoning their homeland to seek a better life in America and Canada.
The kilt was reborn in the late 18th century. In 1782, a campaign led by the Highland Society of London succeeded in overturning the ban on tartan.
Also notable was a visit to Scotland in 1822 by King George IV. His tour was organised by the author Sir Walter Scott, who romanticised Highlanders in books such as Rob Roy. The king appeared wearing Highland dress and was given a positive welcome by the crowds. This royal seal of approval led to Highland dress - and more particularly the short kilt - becoming emblematic of Scotland.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West