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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 07-08-2017, 11:50 PM   #1
Pip01
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Default An odd duck uniform question



Greetings to All,

Some friends and I were in a bit of chat a while
back... and the topic of Cornish kilts and proper
uniform became discussed.

It is well apprehended that within the more recent
years... wool spinners (no pun intended :) have
devised various Cornish tartans... and will be more
than pleased to sell as many kilts of them as possible...

But... and all of that notwithstanding... the.. old... and
traditionally standard Cornish kilt... was plain... of one
color... and was black...

The questions that arose in our chat were... what... if
any... were the other bits of uniform that traditionally
were worn with it... as well.

There was the sporran... with the fifteen gold bezants
(if I have spelled that correctly) on it... but what else?

Are there silver buckles for the shoes? And what fashion
of head wear, or of shirt or tunic?

Any and all thoughts... suppositions... or facts... will be
greatly appreciated... :)

Regards to All,

Pip01

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Old 07-09-2017, 06:58 AM   #2
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: An odd duck uniform question

To me, there's can't be much in the way of "tradition" about something that's a recent creation.

Yes, bezants. The symbols of Cornwall are the St Piran's flag, and the black shield with 15 bezants.



I really like these Cornish sporrans, seen here over two very unattractive Cornish tartans, with the somewhat nicer Cornish "hunting" tartan in between. The tartan on the left, the one usually seen, I suppose goes to show that weavers and not poets should be in charge of designing tartans. It dates from 1963.



Somebody knit hose!



Cornish things have a personal meaning for me, due to my great-grandparents having been baptised and married in this church in the coastal village of Tywardreath. Not surprisingly they were miners.



It's always difficult to design an attractive cloth-like tartan when you start with a set of limitations imposed on you that have nothing to do with designing attractive cloth. All our traditional tartans, and many of the nicest new ones, were designed purely from the standpoint of making attractive cloth.

When the starting point is something like a flag, or a crest, or a set of "symbolic" colours, the designer will have a struggle coming up with something that looks like cloth, and not a flag, or whatever.

I tried my hand at the difficult task of designing a Cornish tartan. You have two things: the gold bezants on a black shield, and the St Piran flag. The latter is easy, just a fat white stripe on black. The former has to turn into an even number of gold squares on a black square (you can't do circles or odd numbers in weaving). I used a blue background. You have to have some background for the two black elements, otherwise you have an all-black kilt with white and yellow stripes on it, which is ugly.

Here it is

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Old 07-09-2017, 07:18 AM   #3
Green Piper
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Default An odd duck uniform question

Reminds me of the phrase "jumping on the band wagon."

https://cornishculture.co.uk/portfol...s-and-tartans/

Given that the Celtic kingdom(s) of the British Isles were divided and pushed into Wales, Cornwall, Ireland, and Scotland during the 5th century any traditional dress must either be due to common ancestry (been derived around 1500 years ago), or be due to convergence of styles of dress.

If the former is the case, then do we have examples of 1500 year old tartans? If the latter, then we must ask how old and how much common usage to be considered traditional?

Charlie
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Old 07-09-2017, 07:30 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: An odd duck uniform question

Thing is, the kilt is a specifically Highland modification of the ancient Irish mantle (called brat in Irish). Originally Ireland and the Highlands had a shared costume, the connexion severed when Ireland was invaded and the traditional Irish costume was extinguished. Highlanders, at some point after that, began wrapping the mantle around their waist.

The modern kilt in turn developed, in the Highlands, from that.

I don't think there's any evidence that any sort of ancient Celtic garb survived into anything close to modern times anywhere else. It survived in Ireland as long as it did due to Ireland's relative isolation from Britain. Wales and Cornwall were Anglified , at least in terms of clothing, many centuries ago.

Cornish and Welsh kilts are purely modern adoptions of the modern Scottish kilt, and have nothing to do with the traditional dress of those places.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: An odd duck uniform question

FWIW: I don't have it anymore, but I firmly remember seeing a photo back in the 70s (?) -- maybe early 80s -- of a couple of leaders of a Cornish Independence Party wearing Highland dress as an expression no doubt of pan-Celtic nationalism. The photo was B&W, but their kilts, as I recall, looked to be a variation of the Wallace clan tartan, only in simple black and white and perhaps yellow rather than red and black and yellow. Like white had been substituted for the red.

Hmmm. I check volume 1 of "Tartans" (Johnson & Smith, Schiffer Publishing, 1999) and what is illustrated there as the "Cornish Flag" tartan or the "Cornish National" tartan might well have been what the gentlemen in that photo were wearing.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:38 AM   #6
Pip01
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Default Re: An odd duck uniform question



Greetings to All,

And thank you all... and very much... for your thoughts
and replies.

And... yes... in that bit of chat amongst us a while ago...
we were all quite knowing about that ever "jump on the
bandwagon" tendency of kit and gear makers... and wool
spinners... and with damned few exceptions...to begin to
make (dare I/we say concoct) what ever they think... may
gain them in commercial sales... (Perhaps... and perhaps
sooner than any may expect... the Inuit-Aleut... may yet
find... that they have their own tartan. :)

In reading from the internet links given above... and thank
you all again for your replies... thoughts... and information...
I re-discoverd the reference to The Duke of Cornwall's men
serving in solid black kilts... in the early 1880s... and I and my
friends were suddenly and simply curious... as to whether (or
not)... this had been (but) one... of the antecedents... for this
now half-forgotten... half-remembered... custom.

And... the/our question loomed... from whence... did the Duke
garner his wish... to clad his men in those solid black kilts?

Furthermore... in a very old book... and almost light years
now away... (And please don't ask the title... as I haven't the
foggiest notion of it.)... there were several photo-color plate
illustrations of the solid black Cornish kilt... but also cited was
an exception... that the solid black kilt could have a single white
stripe... for the Cornish tin... or... a single saffron stripe... but no
reason was cited for that single stripe.

Questions... seemingly... forever abound... :)

Returning to our/my original question... any out there with any
possibilities as to what other kit and gear the good Duke might
have clad his black-kilted soldiers?

And... or... and if possible... from any earlier find-able references...
what other bits of (traditional ?) uniform might the good Duke have
found and used for this uniform for his men?

(From the links with photos given above... and thank you all again...
I somehow think that the white pipers hose... with those fifteen
bezants... placed down the back of them... most probably weren't
de rigueur... for that... or for any other time... save the present...
... But they do probably sell... They do probably sell... :)

And yet again... my and our thanks... and regards... to All,

Pip01


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Last edited by Pip01; 07-15-2017 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:05 PM   #7
Pip01
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Default Re: An odd duck uniform question



An Addendum to My "Odd Duck" Post #6

Continuing in my and my friends quest for possible references
to the now seemingly elusive traditional solid black Cornish kilt...
a mate has sent an internet site to me for,and at least ... one... :)

To be found at: www.alanrichards.org/cornishtartan.htm and in
the copy at the page's top, and I quote:

"Like other Celts the Cornish have kilts and tartans."

but it is the first half of the second sentence that draws attention:
"The Cornish kilt is plain black"... etc., etc. (and you can get the
Cornish kilt in tartans).

On that page will be seen the now "recent" Cornish "tartans" but
no plain black ones are shown.

The question still: Whence came his reference to the solid black?

Questions still abounding... :) and all assistance appreciated.


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Last edited by Pip01; 07-17-2017 at 12:11 PM.
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