Essays in Anthropology: Variations on a Theme

Similarly, snow can only make things cold because it is its nature to be cold. Experience shows that if I am cold and thirsty, my desires for warmth and drink.

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The exact amount of fabric needed depends upon several factors including the size of the sett, the number of pleats put into the garment, and the size of the person.

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For a full kilt, 8 yards of fabric would be used regardless of size and the number of pleats and depth of pleat would be adjusted according to their size. For a very large waist, it may be necessary to use 9 yards of cloth. Setts[edit]One of the most-distinctive features of the authentic Scots kilt is the tartan pattern, the sett, it exhibits. The association of particular patterns with individual clans and families can be traced back perhaps one or two centuries. It was only in the 19th-century Victorian era that the system of named tartans known today began to be systematically recorded and formalised, mostly by weaving companies for mercantile purposes.


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Up until this point, Highland tartans held regional associations rather than being identified with any particular clan. Today there are also tartans for districts, counties, societies and corporations. There are also setts for states and provinces; schools and universities; sporting activities; individuals; and commemorative and simple generic patterns that anybody can wear see History of the kilt for the process by which these associations came about. Setts are always arranged horizontally and vertically, never diagonally except when adapted for women's skirts.

They are specified by their thread counts, the sequence of colours and their units of width. This means that 4 units of black thread will be succeeded by 32 units of red, etc. Typically, the units are the actual number of threads, but as long as the proportions are maintained, the resulting pattern will be the same. This thread count also includes a pivot point indicated by the slash between the colour and thread number.


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  • The weaver is supposed to reverse the weaving sequence at the pivot point to create a mirror image of the pattern. This is called a symmetrical tartan. Some tartans, like Buchanan, are asymmetrical, which means they do not have a pivot point. The weaver weaves the sequence all the way through and then starts at the beginning again for the next sett. Oliver tartan kilt Setts are further characterised by their size, the number of inches or centimetres in one full repeat. The size of a given sett depends on not only the number of threads in the repeat but also the weight of the fabric.

    This is because the heavier the fabric, the thicker the threads will be, and thus the same number of threads of a heavier-weight fabric will occupy more space. The colours given in the thread count are specified as in heraldry, although tartan patterns are not heraldic. The exact shade which is used is a matter of artistic freedom and will vary from one fabric mill to another as well as in dye lot to another within the same mill. Tartans are commercially woven in four standard colour variations that describe the overall tone.

    Ancient greens and blues are lighter while reds appear orange. The colours are bright red, dark hunter green, and usually navy blue. Greens turn to light brown, blues become grey, and reds are a deeper wine colour.

    The last colour variation is 'Muted' which tends toward earth tones. The greens are olive, blues are slate blue, and red is an even deeper wine colour. This means that of the approximately registered tartans available in the Scottish Tartans Authority database as of [11] there are four possible colour variations for each, resulting in around 14, recognised tartan choices. Although many tartans are added every year, most of the registered patterns available today were created in the 19th century onward by commercial weavers who worked with a large variety of colours.

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    The rise of Highland romanticism and the growing Anglicisation of Scottish culture by the Victorians at the time led to registering tartans with clan names. Before that, most of these patterns were more connected to geographical regions than to any clan. There is therefore nothing symbolic about the colours, and nothing about the patterns is a reflection of the status of the wearer. Measurements[edit] Stitching on the fell of a kilt Robertson Red Modern Although ready-to-wear kilts can be obtained in standard sizes, a custom kilt is tailored to the individual proportions of the wearer.

    At least three measurements, the waist, hips, and length of the kilt, are usually required. Sometimes the rise distance above the waist or the fell distance from waistline to the widest part of the hips is also required. A properly made kilt, when buckled on the tightest holes of the straps, is not so loose that the wearer can easily twist the kilt around their body, nor so tight that it causes 'scalloping' of the fabric where it is buckled.

    Additionally, the length of the kilt when buckled at the waist reaches a point no lower than halfway across the kneecap and no higher than about an inch above it. Pleating and stitching[edit] Pleating to the stripe Pleating to the settA kilt can be pleated with either box or knife pleats. A knife pleat is a simple fold, while the box pleat is bulkier, consisting of two knife pleats back-to-back. Knife pleats are the most common in modern civilian kilts.

    Regimental traditions vary. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders use box pleats, while the Black Watch make their kilts of the same tartan with knife pleats. These traditions were also passed on to affiliated regiments in the Commonwealth, and were retained in successor battalions to these regiments in the amalgamated Royal Regiment of Scotland. Pleats can be arranged relative to the pattern in two ways. In pleating to the stripe, one of the vertical stripes in the tartan is selected and the fabric is then folded so that this stripe runs down the center of each pleat.

    The result is that along the pleated section of the kilt the back and sides the pattern appears different from the unpleated front, often emphasising the horizontal bands rather than creating a balance between horizontal and vertical. This is often called military pleating because it is the style adopted by many military regiments. It is also widely used by pipe bands. In pleating to the sett, the fabric is folded so that the pattern of the sett is maintained and is repeated all around the kilt.

    This is done by taking up one full sett in each pleat, or two full setts if they are small. This causes the pleated sections to have the same pattern as the unpleated front. Any pleat is characterised by depth and width. The portion of the pleat that protrudes under the overlying pleat is the size or width.

    The depth is the part of the pleat which is folded under the overlying pleat.

    It depends solely on the size of the tartan sett even when pleating to the stripe, since the sett determines the spacing of the stripes. The number of pleats used in making kilts depends upon how much material is to be used in constructing the garment and upon the size of the sett.

    The pleats across the fell are tapered slightly since the wearer's waist is usually narrower than the hips and the pleats are usually stitched down either by machine or by hand. In Highland dancing, it is easy to see the effect of the stitching on the action of a kilt. The kilt hugs the dancer's body from the waist down to the hipline and, from there, in response to the dancer's movements, it breaks sharply out. The way the kilt moves in response to the dance steps is an important part of the dance. If the pleats were not stitched down in this portion of the kilt, the action, or movement, would be quite different.

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    Accessories[edit]Main article: Kilt accessories Highland dancer revealing the action of a kilt, worn here with a velvet waistcoatThe Scottish kilt is usually worn with kilt hose woollen socks , turned down at the knee, often with garters and flashes, and a sporran Gaelic for 'purse': a type of pouch , which hangs around the waist from a chain or leather strap. This may be plain or embossed leather, or decorated with sealskin, fur, or polished metal plating. Other common accessories, depending on the formality of the context, include:A belt usually with embossed buckle A jacket of various traditional designs A kilt pinA sgian-dubh Gaelic: 'black knife': a small sheathed knife worn in the top of the hose Ghillie broguesOccasionally worn with a ghillie shirt, although this is more casual and, being a relatively modern invention, shouldn't be confused with actual historic garments.

    Styles of kilt wear[edit]See also: Highland dressToday most Scottish people regard kilts as formal dress or national dress. Although there are still a few people who wear a kilt daily, it is generally owned or hired to be worn at weddings or other formal occasions and may be worn by anyone regardless of nationality or descent. Leila Ghasempor. Listen to the Silence. Leila Ghasempor On one hand, my own works reflect my deep concern about the destruction of war and violence on human beings and universe especially mothers and children.

    On the other hand, my style is curvilinear and close to Matisse's style. I decided to combine my own style with Matisse and bring a new concept to this musing dance scene. My concept is about the power of women and their resistance to do everything in war to save their children. No matter how much women have been brutalize by instigating male powers, who are depicted as black shadows of men who standing for ISIS; mothers always stand up to save their chilren. Here in this composition women are tormented by their interaction with the dark figures. Women have been brutalized by ISIS in many ways and at the same time these evil rebels believe they will go to the hell if they be killed by the Kurdish Peshmerga Women Soldiers.

    Which here the power of women is highlighted more. What I show her is the dynamic power and courage of women to fight against darkness and hope to overcome that. In addition, arches that Matisse made reminded me of mosques's arches which are symbolizing a victory of goodness against evil, which here I kept that to highlight the concept more. That is the story that my work "Listen to the Silence," depicts. Leila Ghasempor Kurdish b. Her conceptual oeuvre in diverse media—paper, sculpture, installation, performance—has a strong social and poetic component.

    Her work draws from her experiences growing up in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War , during which time her family was displaced. Her expressive and emotional works reference both universal and culturally specific symbols of human pain, especially how war effects children.