What is a Tartan?
A simple definition of tartan
Defining a tartan is not as simple as it might first appear
because for whatever criteria are dictated, there are bound to be
some 'tartans' that defy the convention. However, here is a simple
definition - allbeit couched with qualifications.
Tartan is a unique art form and conventionally a textile
design comprising woven bands or stripes of various colours and
widths, the design sequence being the same in both directions of
the fabric - with some exceptions - and normally producing a square
pattern which is generally - but not necessarily - symmetrical
about defined pivot points or stripes.
This arrangement creates a recognisable pattern or 'sett' which is
repeated across the width (weft) and length (warp) of the material.
Where bands of differing colours cross, intermediate hues are
formed and the pattern can be modified by the addition of finer
lines of the same or contrasting colours.
This definition is not to the exclusion of designs which -
displaying the identifying characteristics of tartans - are
destined for use in other than woven form.
For a much more detailed and erudite discussion see the article by the