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What is the significance of the Scottish tartan?

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Quick Answer

The Scottish tartan is part of traditional Scots dress, and tartan is often used to signify the family or clan to which the wearer belongs. Historically, tartan is less associated with the clans and is simply a traditional pattern woven in Scotland.

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What is the significance of the Scottish tartan?
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Full Answer

Tartan in Scotland dates back to at least the third century, and it has been produced commercially from the late 1700s. Today clan tartans are sold all over the world. Originally the tartan was simply woven cloth with both horizontal and vertical stripes, and it had no link to the families or clans of the wearers. The names given to each pattern are created by the commercial suppliers to help identify and sell each type of tartan, and over time, the names became associated with the clans themselves.

Although tartan has no specific link to the clans before the early 18th century, the pattern is still a symbol of Scottish pride. After the last Jacobite rising was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the measures the British government took to prevent future uprisings was to ban Scots not in the army from wearing tartan. The act was intended to destroy the clan system in Scotland, and it lasted until 1782.

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