weaving cultures together
January 23, 2021 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Interaction between Scotland and the Muslim world stretches to over 500 years, with notable individuals including; Michael Scot of Melrose whose translations of the philosophical works of Ibn Rushd were instrumental towards inspiring the Renaissance, John Yahya Parkinson of Kilwinning whose poetry honoured the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Lady Evelyn Cobbold, the first British woman to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. With such a rich history, Muslims are today recognised as one of the most diverse and vibrant communities, representing an integral part of the tartan fabric of Scotland - and so, there is a Scottish Islamic tartan.
posted by ChuraChura (14 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Given the prohibition on figurative art in some threads of islam, Tartan seems to be almost a perfect choice for a syncretic artform ....symmetry in islamic art is moved from 2d space with rotational symmetries.... to a color space and orthogonal translational symmetries . Awesome stuff!
posted by lalochezia at 2:52 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]

So cool, ChuraChura! How did you find this? Now even prouder of Scotland.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 3:39 PM on January 23

This is great, thanks for posting it. Multiculturalism is awesome.
posted by Superilla at 3:48 PM on January 23

Glad you're enjoying it - it crossed my twitter timeline. I'm sure this represents an idealized version of the Scottish-Muslim experience, but it seemed hopeful.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:55 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]

This is so great and the tartan is freaking gorgeous.
posted by chococat at 4:26 PM on January 23

This is lovely. Thank you for posting this. It makes me even happier to be living in Scotland than I was already!
posted by Chairboy at 5:11 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]

posted by Wretch729 at 6:44 PM on January 23

I love it! The gallery brought such a smile to my face! Thanks for sharing this.
posted by potrzebie at 6:53 PM on January 23

I've seen it around but never before in focus, so thanks for this post! too bad i only found about the tartan once I left Glasgow, but maybe that's all the best for my student wallet. Especially since I'm into yarn spinning as well - I wasn't well-networked enough that I found more stuff on that end when I was in Edinburgh than Glasgow.

Living as a Muslim international student in Glasgow really had no friction for the most part - to be honest what marked me out is my southeast asian face which would elicit assumptions (sober or not; scottish or from mainlanders themselves) that I'm chinese. In fact, if anything, considering the majority of Scottish Muslims were of South Asian background, and I choose not to wear the hijab, I tend to be unmarked by my fellow Muslims there. Still, by the time I went, it's different enough from the time when the earlier batches of scholarship kids would have went, and the little pieces of advice they would give were no longer needed. There used to be stories of little adventures where students would club together to get a goat to ritually slaughter themselves for halal meat, for example, and when I was there, I don't have to. In fact, just to bring it together to the theme of FPP, if not for my neighbourhood butcher, i don't think I would've been able to regularly have 'authentic', 'real' (lol) Scottish sausages and haggis . That butcher was definitely the last stop I made before I went home, and for at least a few months I had Lorne sausages, breakfast links, and haggis back in Malaysia.

Of course, like any faith communities, there is sectarianism - so, even though I literally walk past a beautiful small mosque to uni daily, because they're Ahmadiyyah, I never did find anyone to go there with me - and I'm not so observant enough to remember making a point of it. I barely remembered to make the trek to the central mosque for Eid! I guess I'm just happy with the sausages.
posted by cendawanita at 7:07 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]

Wonderful post -- absolutely stellar!
posted by y2karl at 7:58 PM on January 23

Thank you for the post. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, tartan was worn in rather an insular and parochial manner: if you were not from clan X (or if you were attending any event south of Perth) then you were considered to be outside the club of people who could wear a given pattern. That exclusiveness was a relic of the Victorian mapping of tartans to clans (previously different patterns has been largely the result of regional preferences - and often to the local availability of certain dyes). Tartan had gone from something for everyday highland wear, to something banned (after Culloden) and on, to be something popular but a bit kitsch and ossified.

Scotland is a much more multi-cultural and inter-connected place now, than it was when I was growing up - so it is interesting to see that attitudes to tartan have evolved again with this change. Politically, the trend is towards the idea of civic nationalism: if you live here, and get wet under the same rain, then you are one of us. For tartan, this leads to the acceptance that anyone, from anywhere, can wear whatever pattern they want - in whatever way they want. You might want to know what the rules could be: but you can also break them creatively, of course. Tartan itself, is said to have originated far outside Scotland with Celtic cultures such as the bronze age Hallstatts: the colours and patterns have always represented a combination of personal taste, geographic region and colour symbolism. What we have now is a hybrid situation where people can choose what they want - but can also use the pattern to represent a clan: where that clan can be anything you want it to be. It was interesting to read the amount of thought that went into the symbolism of the Islamic tartan.

FAQ for anybody wanting to design and register their own tartan, by the way.
posted by rongorongo at 11:49 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]

I'm going to drag this post down to my own level, and single out Scotland's (and most especially Glasgow's) embrace of the pakora via the Punjab diaspora as not only cultural interaction, but I suspect that introduction of chickpea flour and vegetables into the late night deep-fried repertoire has improved vitamin intake, though doing little for waistlines. Obligatory Burnistoun Munchie Box - Square sausage pakora! More pakora!
posted by Vortisaur at 4:20 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

This is lovely! I especially like the tartan hijab. There is also a Sikh tartan. Both are much nicer than my family tartan, which is a bilious combination of red, orange, green and yellow.

I've never had a square sausage pakora, but some places will do you a very nice haggis samosa. Come to think of it, since all the, er, bits in haggis are traditionally sheep, haggis is probably halal, if the sheep if properly killed.
posted by Fuchsoid at 5:20 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Come to think of it, since all the, er, bits in haggis are traditionally sheep, haggis is probably halal, if the sheep if properly killed

And if you're from the 'well, you're away from home, and at least it's not pork,' sort of traveller, then it's already good enough*. Definitely had my share of haggis in non-halal establishments because at least it's more certain than most sausages/deli meats. Which is great, because I really don't see the big deal against it, I find it delicious. As far as my southeast asian gang is concerned anyway, nothing in puts us off of it, considering our cuisine. And it's actually got spices in it!

Man, now i miss a munchy box.

To bring it back to weaving though and of tartans, it was certainly news to me that the whole concept of clan-exclusive tartans was honestly more of a Victorian invention than anything else. And though Edinburgh's Royal Mile can be tourist trap, i could never resist visiting the wool mill that's next to the castle, because of that interest i have in textiles. In a way, this tartan feels like a new episode in the connection Scotland has with South Asian Muslim world in this sector. After all, if not for colonialism and British attempts to break through the Indian textile hegemony, the town of Paisley wouldn't have been able to associate itself with an indelibly South Asian pattern so thoroughly in the global market. (I've tried spinning with cashmere btw - a blend for now, but goodness, i can see the point of the historical hype)

*Not according to formal especially conservative muslim jurists 😬
posted by cendawanita at 9:50 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

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