||Due largely to the writings of people like Robert Burns and Sir
Walter Scott, Scotland became a romantic vision. Lowlanders adopted
the Highland dress as a way of identifying themselves as non-English.
The English nobility fell in love with the kilt. Queen Victoria had
her own Highland Servant, Mr. Brown, who wore his kilt every day.
King George, in his 1822 visit to Edinburgh, insisted that all visiting
chiefs wear their clan tartan and he had an outfit (with flesh coloured
hose) made special for him to wear. Scots expatriates the world over
began to wear the kilt in remembrance of their homeland and form St. Andrew's
clubs and Highland Societies. These people, unfamiliar with the history
of the kilt, assumed that they must wear the tartan that bore their name,
or the name of their clan. This boosted tartan sales, so the weavers
didn't mind. Books were written placing certain Scottish names in
Highland clans, assigning them this tartan or that. So began the
myth that the clans of old all wore identical tartans as their identifying
badge. Pieces of Wilson's tartan can be seen framed behind these
Victorian outfits. The children are wearing formal wear such that
might be seen at Tartan balls even yet today.
|These pictures, one of a MacGregor, and one of a MacDonell, show
how tartan fashion had advanced. The MacGregor, c. 1822, shows a
matching tartan outfit, in the same tartan as worn by the MacGregor clan
today. The MacDonell of 1815 also is dressed in a matching tartan,
but it does not match up with any known MacDonald tartan today.
It does illustrate the start of yet another trend, however.
Tucked in his stocking is a small knife, a sgian dubh, Gaelic for "black
knife." This is the first known illustration of this fashion.
It most likely evolved from a matched pair of hunting knives--a large dirk
for butchering and a small sgian dubh for skinning. The sgian would
be tucked into the top of the hose for convenience. It was not intended
to be a hidden weapon or a "last resort" weapon as many say today, but
a functional tool.