Tartan is type of woven cloth that consists of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours. "Tartan" can also refer to the same distinctive pattern used in other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland, and Scottish kilts are practically always made of tartan.
Tartan is probably not a Scottish invention. The oldest known tartans are from China, while other sources say that tartan originated in Spain. In the Scottish Highlands, tartans were originally associated with regions or districts, not with clans as they are today. Under the 1746 Dress Act the wearing of tartan was banned (with exemptions for the military and the gentry), until the law was revoked in 1782. The 19th century saw a tartan revival (inspired by James Macpherson's Ossian poems and the writings of Walter Scott) that expanded to all over Scotland and even to England. Tartan became the national dress of the whole of Scotland, rather than just the highlands and islands. In the 1850s, specific tartans became associated with Scottish clans or Scottish families, or simply institutions who are (or wish to be seen as) associated in some way with a Scottish heritage.
Tartan and plaidEdit
In American English, the word plaid means tartan. The Scots language word plaid (pronounced /ˈplad/) however does not mean tartan. It means a (woolen) blanket, which may or may not be tartan. A plaid rug is used to lay on the ground for picnics. When the modern kilt is worn as a dress uniform, a piece of cloth in the same tartan as the kilt which is cast over the shoulder and fastened at the front is also called plaid.
Tartan in school uniformsEdit
Tartans are also commonly found in British influenced school uniforms such as dresses and skirts for schoolgirls, all over the world including places as far from Scotland as Japan or New Zealand. In some countries, they are part of the stereotypical Catholic school uniform.
Tartan is also fetishized, possibly from the mix of associations with Scotland, schoolgirls, and with strict education. Tartan school uniforms are popular in school or schoolchild related roleplay, such as spanking roleplay (teacher/schoolie or parent/schoolie, with or without involving ageplay). Tartan kilts are occasionally found in boy spanking stories, with the possible exploitation of the fact that traditionally no underwear is to be worn under a kilt.
Transvestite in a schoolgirl-style tartan skirt.
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