Vivienne Westwood 2007 F/F
Colour: shades and meaning
The shades of colour in tartan can be altered to produce variations of the same tartan. The resulting variations are termed: modern, ancient, and muted. These terms refer to colour only.
- Modern represents a tartan that is coloured using chemical dye, as opposed to natural dye. In the mid-19th century natural dyes began to be replaced by chemical dyes which were easier to use and were more economic for the booming tartan industry. Chemical dyes tended to produce a very strong, dark colour compared to the natural dyes. In modern colours, setts made up of blue, black and green tend be obscured.
- Ancient refers to a lighter shade of tartan. This shade is supposed to represent the colours that would be obtained by using natural dyes such as Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown and grey.
- Muted refers to tartan which is shade between modern and ancient. This type of tartan is very modern, dating only from the early 1970s. This shade is said to be the closest match to the shades attained by natural dyes used before the mid-19th century
Tartan made a resurgence in its use in Punk Fashion . In the late 1970s punk music was a way for youth in the British Isles to voice their discontent with the ruling class.
The idea that the various colours used in tartan have a specific meaning is purely a modern one. One such myth is that red tartans were "battle tartans", designed so they would not show blood.