Clan Tartans

Members Robertson Red Tartan

Modern Robertson Red

What are the meanings of tartan?

Today the tartan is possibly the world’s most recognized symbol of Scottish national identity.  The word “tartan” is derived from French word tiretaine described a woven cloth of half-wool, half-linen that was popular in the 16th century—a time when France and Scotland had close ties.  The specific tartan design and particular patterns is believed to have begun in late 18th, early 19th century when the Scottish clans and families wanted a way to designate themselves as a district or collective.  The Chief and the weavers determined the pattern often designating colors of background and lines giving reference to something particular such as their lands, flowers, marriages between clans, loyalty to belief, etc.

The Robertson tartan’s earliest known date was 1831; the earliest source believed was by Logan; the type is symmetrical.

Why are there so many different ones?

Everyone is entitled to wear a tartan.  It is your family name that indicates which tartan you might wear.  You can, however, wear any Clan tartan that you choose—but you must not claim to be a member of that Clan if you are not!  But as in ancient times the “joining” or “membership” is determined by the head of the organization.  There are dress tartans, ancient, modern, district, and various combinations between clans and within clans.  Currently members are asked to wear the Chief’s which is the Robertson Modern Red but members may use any of the other options including Colorado Tartan, and the Armed Services tartans.