THEY might hail from China and are not part of a clan, but the giant pandas set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo before the end of the year have been granted their own tartan.
The Scottish Register of Tartans, which approves applications for new patterns, has released details on its website of “The Edinburgh Zoo Panda” design, created to celebrate the arrival of breeding pair Tian Tian and Yangguang.
The main colours are black and white, representing the pandas. There’s also red for China and green to represent bamboo, the animals’ favourite food. Red overchecks in blocks represent the number “3”, which symbolises luck and is similar to the Chinese character for birth. Grey shades convey the gradation of colour from black to white as seen on the pandas’ fur.
Edinburgh Zoo, which commissioned the tartan, said the choices of colour “shows China, as well as the pandas, in the hearts and minds of Scotland and its people”.
Gillespie tartan was the starting point for the pattern in recognition of Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie, who founded the Royal Zoological Society of Edinburgh in 1909.
The zoo is expected to launch the design at a special event in the next few weeks.
A spokeswoman said: “We have worked closely with designers Kinloch Anderson to create a tartan which reflects the huge cultural significance of the giant pandas’ arrival in Scotland.
“Having something as traditional, beloved and intrinsic to Scotland as tartan commemorating the arrival of our pandas is a superb example of two important cultural symbols coming together, and provides yet another way to mark this auspicious event for the nation.”
The tartan can only be used and marketed by Edinburgh Zoo unless permission has been requested and granted by it.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are delighted that Scotland has been chosen to take part in China’s breeding programme for giant pandas.
“We welcome anything that celebrates the arrival of the pandas which will bring significant economic benefits for Scotland in terms of tourism as well as strengthening the cultural and educational links between Scotland and China.”
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser also welcomed the move. He said: “Maybe the pandas would like some rugs made up in the new tartan to stave off the cold Edinburgh winters, which may come as a shock to them.
“I hope they won’t wear tartan Jimmy hats and choose instead to make tasteful use of the tartan in an appropriate manner.”
He added: “I dare say the souvenir shop at the zoo will do a roaring trade in miniature pandas with tartan flourishes.”