"Today tartan may be mostly associated with Scotland; however, the earliest evidence of tartan is found far afield from the British Isles. According to the textile historian E. J. W. Barber, the Hallstatt culture of Central Europe, which is linked with ancient Celtic populations and flourished between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, produced tartan-like textiles. Some of them were recently discovered, remarkably preserved, in Salzburg, Austria Textile analysis of fabric from Indo-European Tocharian graves in Western China has also shown it to be similar to that of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture.
Tartan-like leggings were found on the "Cherchen Man", a 3,000 year-old mummy found in the Taklamakan Desert in western China (see Tarim mummies). Similar finds have been made in central Europe and Scandinavia. The earliest documented tartan in Britain, known as the "Falkirk" tartan, dates from the 3rd century AD. The fragment was stuffed into the mouth of an earthenware pot containing almost 2,000 Roman coins. The Falkirk tartan has a simple check design, of natural light and dark wool. Early forms of tartan like this are thought to have been invented in pre-Roman times, and would have been popular among the inhabitants of the northern Roman provinces as well as in other parts of Northern Europe such as Jutland, where the same pattern was prevalent."
The nationalism of the kilt is relatively recent. It was only with the Romantic Revival of the early 19th century that the highland kilt was adopted by Lowlanders and the Scottish diaspora as a symbol of national identity. People from other countries with Celtic connections, some Irish, Cornish, Welsh and Manx, have also adopted tartan kilts in recent times, although to a lesser degree.Not every Scotsman or Scotswoman wears a kilt nowadays, but at festivals or special occasions they make a wonderful show in their kilts, while playing their bagpipes. Up until the eighteenth century, clans in Scotland had little or no association with particular tartans."
And tartans that were worn back then, were more likely to be associated with a district rather than a clan.Here are some patterns of tartans used for kilts. I couldn't find out which kilt belongs to which clan. I should like to know more about the clans and their kilts. I fear, however, that it is a rather complicated thing.
The kilt first appeared as the great kilt, a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over head as a cloak. The small kilt or walking kilt (similar to the "modern" kilt) did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt.
With thanks to Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC, and thanks to Roger. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar. This week we are looking for words beginning with K.