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Colour Schemes in Tartan




A tartan garment, when sold, is often called something like "Ancient Red Robertson" which looks different from a "modern" one of the same name. However, the pattern remains the same it is just the shade of thread used that belong to a different scheme, as follows.

There are no explicit standards for colour use and the colours are chosen by experience by weavers or by thread suppliers, but the usual types of shading are:-

Ancient Colours

These have nothing to do with a tartan being old, but is an attempt to approximate the vegetable dyes that were originally used to make tartan cloth.

Modern Colours

These relate to the bright shades that were first popular when synthetic aniline dyes were introduced. In those days, only the rich could afford some strong colours and so there was great enthusiasm to be able to do likewise.

Reproduction Colours

These go further than ancient colours by attempting the effect produced by vegetable dyes after they had naturally faded.

Muted Colours

These are another, duller form of ancient colours but not always resembling reproduction colours.