> There has been more rubbish written by idiots, supposedly
>"debunking tartan myths", than there has been intelligent discourse.
>The best and most concise book is "Tartan: The Highland Habit"
>written by Hugh Cheape of the Scottish National Museum, as he uses
>both artefacts AND Gaelic source materials.
Thanks for the tip, Michael, and while we're on Scottish wear, how
about this one? Just up the road from where I live in Hungary there
is a village with a chapel dedicated to Szent Margit. About three
years ago the place was reeling with Scots, this sainted lady being
none other than St Margaret of Scotland, who was the Hungarian wife
of Malcolm. A nine-hundredth anniversary was celebrated jointly by
the Hungarian villagers and their Scottish guests.
Now get this. According to some Hungarian scholar or other, the word
"tartan" comes from the Hungarian word "tarka", (`mottled'), which
Margaret used to describe the `design' of the clothing she found in
her husband's home country. The problem, of course, is that unless
`tarka' meant something slightly different from what it does today,
Margaret wouldn't have used the word "tarka", because it was only
much later that technology provided colour-fast dyes (coming into the
eigthteenth century, I think, in Scotland) with which the Scots could
begin to design "clan patterns". She would, in fact, have used
whatever the word or phrase is in Hungarian for "cross-over pattern",
and not a word describing different colours.
If my memory serves me right, King George's personal Scots Guard
were the first to have their own distinctive plaid design and
colouring... the Black Watch!?
In fact, one of the most-commonly-used dyes in early days was
humman urine. Perhaps it did leave a blotch or two!
Andrew C Rouse
Department of English
School of Arts
Janus Pannonius University
Ifjusag utja 6
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