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Buffalo Plaid origins

Buffalo Plaid - its Origins

Malboro Man wore it . . . Roy Rogers wore it . . . Tom Mix wore it . . . as did the mythical Paul Bunyan, legendary lumberjack of a thousand comic strips. And no self-respecting gunslinging cowboy would be seen without it . . . .Buffalo Plaid . . . as American as apple pie! Or is it?

Buffalo 300pxOfficially, Buffalo Plaid or check is " plaid with large blocks formed by the intersection of two different color yarns, typically red and black." Hang on a minute . . . .isn' that the Rob Roy tartan? It most certainly is and it's  said that it was introduced to north America by a descendant of Rob Roy - one 'Jock McCluskey' sometime lawman, bounty hunter, fur trapper, gold miner and eventually Indian trader.

In the Indians' eyes, McCluskey was no ordinary white man. Awed by his strength and size, he was hailed an invincible warrior. Both feared and revered, he was equally admired for his compassion. In the anti-Indian holocaust that followed  Custer's Last Stand, he was a rare white man indeed who dared to champion their cause. His reasons were as simple as they were personal: Their persecution and plight mirrored his own family clan' descent from nobility to hunted criminals.

Befriended by the Indians, McCluskey became one of the era's near vanished Buffalo tradingmiddlemen: A white man welcome among the Indians who effortlessly mingled between two warring rivals without fear or retribution. From the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne, McCluskey bartered for buffalo pelts, offering a myriad of finished goods in exchange, the most coveted among the Indians were the heavy woven Scottish blankets, their dense, hearty weave colourfully emblazoned with his clan tartan' signature red-and-black colours.

According to McCluskey's great nephew, Gregor McCluskey, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were in awe of its colour. None had ever seen such a deep, rich red. They believed its intensely rich hue of red to be a  sorcorer's hex, a dye distilled from the spirit blood and ghostly souls of McCluskey's prey and enemies, a belief McCluskey did little to correct. Worn in battle and draped across their war ponies, it was prized as a good luck talisman and revered as a spirit guardian that would deliver immortality, even in the face of death itself.

Buffalo plaid Roy Rogers


First noted in 1704, here the Rob Roy tartan is featured in a 1906 postcard.

Sioux and Cheyenne warriors called it " plaid" (the Gaelic for it was pronounced pladjer) as did U.S. Army outpost and fort traders who bought McCluskey's bartered skins and plaids. Hence was born, sometime in the late 1880s, the unique and confusing American term plaid referring to tartan itself rather than  the use to which it was put. It was a very short step from there to the tartan of McCluskey's Rob Roy blankets becoming known as Buffalo plaid.

 Lumberjack Folk Hero, Paul Bunyan.


The original Buffalo plaid.3

Ladies' fashion took it up.

Believe it or not, this is being sold now as Buffalo Plaid having strayed a million miles from its historic origin!

Buffalo plaid marlboro

Buffalo plaid Tom Mix

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