When one thinks of Scotland, many iconic images come to mind; rolling green hills, ancient castles, and Nessie swimming in her loch.
Even more memorable than these, however, is the patterned fabric which has come to symbolize Scottish culture itself: Tartan is the only textile design in the world of which a tiny scrap can evoke such feelings of pride, such identification with the historical struggles of Scots, and identification with those desirable traits associated with being Scottish - honesty, industriousness and bravery in battle.*
Although tartan-style fabrics have a very long history – a good portion of it not Scottish – today these textiles are most famous as badges of identification. Specific colors and their arrangements function as a symbolic language in their own right, representing individuals, families and clans, as well as professional groups, companies, and organizations. To the huge international family of Scots and their descendants - estimated at 40 to 60 million around the globe - tartan represents everything that is admirable and wholesome about the land of their fathers.*
This tartan was authorised by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to raise funds for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. Designed by Rosalind Jones of Celtic Originals, the colours chosen all represent different aspects of the continent’s landscape and inhabitants:
•Grey represents outcropping rocks, seals, and birds.
•The square of white at the edge of the sett represents the light of the Antarctic summer sun on the ice-covered continent. This is quartered by threads of pale blue. These represent the 0 / 360, 90, 180, and 270 lines of longitude. The point where they cross represents the South Pole.
•Two bands of grey surrounding the white heart represent nunataks, mountain ranges, and exposed coastal rocks. Much of Antarctica's life forms are found around the coast, so the colours that follow in the sett, orange, yellow, black and white, represent the wealth of animal life on land and in the seas.
•Orange also represents the lichens that encrust the rocks. Surrounding the land, pale blue and white depict the ice shelves whilst the outside is edged by bands of midnight blue for the ocean deeps and dark winters.
•Each sett is separated by a thin band of white that represents the edge of Antarctica. Where these cross, the Southern Cross is depicted. This viewed diagonally also represents the Scottish saltire, a tribute that in 2001 marked the centenary of Scott's first expedition to the Antarctic in 1901. The tartan is sold in several parts of the world -including Port Lockroy in Antarctica.**
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