Categories of Tartan
Each tartan in the Tartan search facility is allocated a
category and the following is a brief explanation. To make life
easier for visitors to the search system we use a bracketed suffix
for each tartan name but frequently the space allocated for the
tartan name is insufficient to include the full category and so you
may well see shortened versions - text-speak almost! Where you see
a ? after the suffix, that indicates that the allocated
category may be in doubt.
Clan Tartans. The vast majority of
(Clan) tartans are available for anyone to weave,
buy and wear. . . BUT . . . not all such tartans are actually
available off-the-shelf from weavers. Many of them are for small
clans/families where demand is insufficient to justify anyone
holding a stock. Such tartans may have to specially woven. To
check, just ask any of our retail members featured in the 'Where
can I Buy?" directory. If you're a Business Member then check in
the "Where can I Source" directory.
Name Tartans. (Name) tartans are new designs by
individuals usually for themselves and anyone else of the same name
or its spelling variations. You're extremely
unlikely to find anyone with a stock holding of such tartans and
they'll need to be specially woven. You should also bear in mind
that there is very little chance of there being any historical
provenance to such tartans or connections with your branch
of that family name. In time however, and with sufficient usage,
such tartans may become accepted as Clan/Family tartans.
District Tartans. Tartans with
(District) after the name are for geographical
areas ranging from small dwellings, to towns, cities, counties,
states, provinces, regions and countries! In practical terms they
are available for anyone to wear although most people will wear
such because of a personal connection with that area. They're often
used when individuals can find no relevant tartan to wear from any
of the other categories. A limited number of traditional and
popular ones are usually available off-the-shelf but some will need
to be woven or sourced from the copyright holder in the area
Personal Tartans. Any tartans with
(Personal) after the name are just that .
. . personal and private tartans
for the use of the named individual and are not available for wear
or use by anyone else. So please . . . don't waste your
time - or anyone else's - trying to track down the owner to seek
permission. Even if you see them being offered by some vendors,
don't believe them!
Fashion Tartans. Similarly - any tartans with
(Fashion) after the name are not available for
general use unless the notes specifically say so. They belong or
have belonged to a commercial company who own the copyright.
If a tartan has your surname, then the chances are it's just
coincidence and its choice was a marketing decision.
Corporate Tartans. The same applies to
(Corporate) tartans - they belong to business
organisations or distinct groupings of people with specific
interests and are very definitely not available to members of the
Military. Self explanatory.
Universal tartans. There are a small number of
tartans marked (Universal) and these are for use
by anyone - usually those who can't identify any other tartan which
they feel entitled to wear. Such tartans include the Black Watch,
Royal Stewart, Hunting Stewart to name just a few.
Artefact. Where a thread count has been
obtained from a fragment of cloth or an article of clothing. There
is no point in trying to find a supplier of this (or the next
'Portrait' category) since they will not be available
off-the-shelf. You can of course have any tartans in this category
specially woven for you - see our relevant section.
Portrait. Where a thread count has been
obtained from a portrait or photograph.