Tartan: Scotland’s gift to the world
The ‘Prayer for Tartan’ illustrated below was composed by Andrew Hill, Minister of St. Mark’s, the home for Unitarians in Edinburgh. The original poem, in the Gaelic oral tradition, is thought to date from the mid-18th. Century, during the time when the wearing of tartan was proscribed by Act of Parliament. It was translated by the late John Macdonald of Kyles, North Uist, who believed that the words were those of an old man out in the hills on a cold night, grateful for the warmth of his plaid, and hoping that all humankind would be as fortunate as him.
The universalist compassion of that noble old man surely exemplifies what tartan, in all its various patterns and colours, can represent: a national symbol which is international, distinctive yet universal, diverse yet inclusive. It is this ethos which lies behind the tartans presented here by International Tartans. And by using family, district and national symbols and colours throughout their designs, they have tried to create a unique range of international tartans: Scotland’s gift to the world.
Wrapped snugly round us against the cauld,
Your warp stretching through the weft,
And your weft interlacing with warp,
Weaving a heavenly plaid o’ chequered cloth.
Keep us warmly in our plaid this day and all days,
And pardon us for keeping others in the cauld,
As we pardon those who have kept us in the cauld.
And spare us please from clannishness.
For tatan is for all clans,
For all races,
For all nations,
People without end,
Everywhere! Everywhere! Everywhere!