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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
II. Gaelic Society


together with the pervasiveness of tribalism and the fact that tribal dynasts often had their own pedigree attached to that of the ruling tribe of a province (making them, in a nominal way, honorary members of those tribes), helped reinforce the emergence of a kind of "national family." This is especially true when considering descent within certain geographically defined areas, such as the Scottish Highlands, or one of the provinces of Ireland. This is particularly true in Scotland, where a combination of factors (the intermarriage of Picts and Scots, and the resultant substitution of patrilineal descent for the original matrilineal decent of the Picts) resulted in an unusual homogeneity of patrilineally traced, politically significant tribal/dynastic pedigrees in Scotland. This homogeneity in turn encouraged other tribal branches migrating from Ireland to northern Scotland during the Middle Ages to selectively intermarry in order to acquire dynastic ties to these patrilineal groups, and the same principle applies to the Norman settlers when they came. However, this does not mean that the reality of patrilineally traced ethnic origin ceased to be of importance, for the provincially unifying factors discussed above served only to streamline provincial politics which remained based on ethnic/tribal origin.

The basic dress for men into the seventeenth century included Celtic brogues (black leather shoes not unlike ballerina slippers: a kind of moccasin), knee-length tartan hose of an argyle pattern, a long, saffron dyed linen shirt of ample folds and yardage, and a mantle of wool, which in Scotland evolved into the kilt of today. Originally the kilt was a large, rectangular plaid variously arranged on the body, but generally belted at the waist producing the familiar kilted pleats. District setts grew out of traditional weaving patterns and the local availability of vegetable dyes. In Scotland, the circumscribing geography of mountain and glen encouraged the association of certain district setts with the dominant local clan. However, the modern idea of the Scottish tartan as a kind of "clan uniform" seems to have developed by analogy to the regimental tartans of the 1780s, after the repeal of the ban on Highland dress. Before that time, a poor Highlander wore any wool he could get his hands on, while a rich one traded with other districts or else had a sett of his own made to suit his individual taste. In any case, mixing and matching was the rule, and with the addition of the tartan waistcoat and jacket in the eighteenth century, the Highland squire cut a variegated figure indeed. This was a Celtic society, with individual vanity setting the fashion statement. There was no need then to manifest group identity with a uniform: A person lived all his life with the same clan, in the same place, and with the same leaders. What was needed was a sense of personal identity, always achieved through individual adornment.

Another aspect of the Gaelic tribal culture was its heraldry,, the symbolism of which is often of very ancient origin, although it did not develop in its medieval importance until the coming of the Normans in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Nevertheless, families often shared common dy-


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