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Scottish Clan Tartans

Scottish families, also known as Clans have various items that distinguish themselves from other clans. One of these items is the tartan or woven cloth that is chosen to represent the clan. This tartan is most notably used to create the kilt that the men of the clan wear as well as dresses and skirts worn by the women. The clan is determined by not only the particular colors used to create the tartan design but also the specific pattern that is in the design.


I am a member of Clan Home (pronounced and sometimes mistakingly spelled as Hume) from the Berwickshire district of the Scottish border area.


The Clan Home tartan is comprised of black, blue, red, and green colors. The top image shows the "Ancient" color scheme while the second image shows its "Modern" colors.  The third image shows the Hume tartan in "Hunting" colors.

I am also a descendent of Clan MacAlpin(e). According to tradition the Clan MacAlpine or MacAlpin is the most purely Celtic of all the Highland Scottish clans. They are believed to be of royal descent from Kenneth MacAlpin who united the Picts and Scots from the year 850 into one kingdom and moved his capital from Perthshire to Dunadd beside Loch Crinan in Dál Riata. The MacAlpine surname is still common in Scotland today but there is little trace of any clan of the name. The former chiefs apparently had their seat on lands that are now Dunstaffnage Castle in Argyll, which was an early capital of Kenneth MacAlpin, who was King of the Picts and according to myth, the first King of Scots.


Most clans have multiple versions of their tartan, for different purposes.  The ancient tartans are meant to represent the original colors that were produced with dyes from plants and items from the local area where the clan lived. This resulted in more muted colors that are not as vibrant as today's chemically manufactured colors as shown in the "Modern" tartan.


Some clans have what are known as Hunting tartans which follow the same patters as their other tartans yet tend to use more browns and greens in their color scheme so they do not stand out as much in the woods while hunting.


Typically when a kilt is worn, the choice of wearing either ancient, modern, hunting, etc., would depend on the specific event and on the time of day. Ancient and hunting tartans typically have a more relaxed and leisurely appearance to it with their lighter and more subdued colors, so this color scheme would typically be worn during the day. The modern tartans appear dressier with more bold and vibrant colors and are therefore normally used for more formal events, and for evening wear. Basically ancient or hunting tartan for casual wear, and modern for anything that you would normally dress up for.


Here in Hawaii, we also have an official tartan for the State of Hawaii which is the last tartan design shown to the right which consists of blue, green, red, and yellow colors.


The meanings of the colors in the Hawaii State Tartan are described by its creator as: "In the beginning, there was the sea and the sky, and they were blue. From the depths of the ocean came lava, and it was a fiery red and yellow. As the lava hardened, it formed the islands, and over time turned into the 'aina, the rich brown life-giving earth. Soon the islands were covered in lush green vegetation, making them emerald jewels set in a cerulean blanket. Where the green of the islands and the blue of the ocean met formed the blue-green nearshore waters, which flourished with abundant sea life. The Flora and fauna provided nourishment to the people who settled these islands, eventually adopting the red and yellow as royal colors."




Home Ancient Tartan
Home Modern Tartan
Home Hunting Tartan
Hawaii State Tartan
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