The Black and White – Mourning tartan

This has a black ground with seven white check lines in exactly the same sett as the others. It is now called the mourning tartan although originally appears to have been the tartan of the Menzies families of the South West Scottish borders – Durisdeer and Enouch. This is said to have come from their shield granted in 1370 – ‘a chief sable’ – black band across a white shield.

It is recorded that clansmen attending funerals of their chiefs would wear the full-dress red and white kilts, therefore it is not exactly clear how this became the mourning tartan – perhaps as a shawl worn by the women. In modern times it has certainly been a fashionable choice at different times and it would be no problem to find jackets, skirts, trousers to buy in shops – all in various different sizes of the sett. It can also usually be found to buy by the yard/metre in tartan shops, and appears to be the only one available in UK as ribbon sold off a reel.

This is probably because all the other tartan ribbon is in various colours and this is one of the few simple black and white genuine tartans around. It is also sometimes found in a very small pattern in taffetta material for sale by yd/m.

Would be glad to know of any ribbon source for other colours – not strips of cloth cut and hemmed.