Text by Hannah Jones
At the first mention of tartan, the mind may go straight to the Scottish Highlands and the days when kilt patterns were a sign of one’s home region. However, the pattern was likely not created by our Scottish brethren at all. One of the earliest examples of tartan dates all the way back to 1000 BC with the Cherchen Man, the mummified remains of a Celtic male found in the Taklamakan Desert in western China wearing tartan leggings and a red tunic.
The striking pattern surged in popularity at the time most people would assume, though—the 17th and 18th centuries in the Highlands of Scotland. In fact, the multicolor pattern became such a cultural symbol that Scottish clans, or family groups, began creating their own tartans as a way to identify each other.
Through the centuries, tartan has become an identifying factor for Scots as a whole, not just Highlanders, but it has also found a following in other countries. The orderly striped pattern is beloved by collectors around the world and is featured in a variety of different items, from ornamental boxes and clocks to clothing items and even thermos patterns.
Tartan is unique in that it can match with nearly any color palette thanks to its colorful design. There’s truly no better time of year to display your tartan collection than Christmas, both for its iconic pattern and for the nostalgia it evokes.