male unbifurcated garments
Vestitam matrem... nominatum patrem
(dressing like mother and being called father)
The ever popular unbifurcated garments of Scotland are fashionable with the mitred bishop in his alb and the
highland laddie in his kilt
Armed Forces Chaplain in an unbifurcated garment a.k.a. camophlage fatigue kilt
featuring the famed McRambo Tartan
This Prince of the Church enjoying a stroll in an unbifurcated garment
a.k.a. rochet with bobbin lace and cappa magna
Clergy of the Deanery in their week-day unbifurcated habiliments reflecting on the benefits of the Clergy tartan over the Clan tartan: three out of four agree!
Canon Parenthetical Ross (here admiring his clan crest) vehemently disagrees (no surprise here) and insists on wearing his clan’s tartan in an unbifurcated garment (with all the pride he can conceal)
Unbifurcated garments – including cassocks, albs, rochet, kilts, robes – are traditionally male clothing that have been worn by men throughout history. They have been worn by all the men in the Bible, by Roman gladiators, Vikings, and Scottish Highlanders. They are still worn frequently by men in Scotland, throughout Africa, the Middle East, parts of Asia, and the Pacific islands, to name just a few examples. This is credited in large measure to the Highland missionary zeal of a bygone day when the Biblical fashion was carried into all the world and the British Empire painted schoolroom world maps red! Unbifurcated garments are far more comfortable and suitable to the male anatomy than trousers, because they don’t confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers do.
Although there was a relatively brief period in history when manhood was symbolized by the wearing of trousers, this is no longer the case. Today trousers have become unisex garments that women wear most of the time. In North America, for example, a guy wearing blue jeans will find himself dressed the same as perhaps 90 per cent of the girls. If a man wishes to distinguish his masculinity through clothing, he would do much better by strapping on a cassock or alb or perhaps a real Scottish kilt.
Male unbifurcated garments (we’ll call them M.U.G.s for short) come in several forms. By far the most famous and well accepted is the kilt - especially the familiar Scottish variety, made of tartan wool and worn with knee sox and a pouch in front called a sporran.
This is perhaps the most ecumenical style. The sporran provides a convenient place where the devout cleric may keep his Breviary and Rosary through the week.
Men’s kilts may also come in a variety of styles – solid colours, lighter weights, alternative fabrics – and may be worn with or without the traditional Scottish accoutrements.
The Clergy tartan has been described as the only occupational tartan. It is seen in a few variations, including a blue and a green version. Why the different tartans? Do they represent different types of clergy? Let’s look at what we know.
There is a tradition that Highland clergy wore Highland clothing, but were instructed not to wear bright colours. Allegiance to Orders was primary over fidelity to hearth and the tartan worn would remind the cleric of a higher calling. The first evidence we have of a tartan for clerics is from the records of the weaving firm Wilsons of Bannockburn, c. 1830. They called their tartan of black, lavender, and light blue “Priest.” Why they called it that is a subject of great ecclesiastical debate. Most likely they thought “Priest” was a suitable name for a tartan in muted colours that nobody else wanted to wear.
The “Clergy” tartan does not represent any particular sect or denomination. While it is perhaps most popularly used by ministers of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterians), there is no evidence to suggest that its use was ever limited to one group. Keep in mind that until the Reformation of the sixteenth century, all of Scotland was Catholic. Even after that time, the Highlands of Scotland remained Catholic much longer than the Lowlands. And while Presbyterians are most common among Protestants, you also have the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and many other denominations in more recent times. Yet the Clergy tartan was never mentioned in association with one particular sect. It was always simply said to be used by “Highland Clergy.”
Any “Clergy” tartan can be worn by any cleric of any stripe. Many ministers and priests who wear their clan tartans, and a solid black kilt would look stunning with clerical dress.
In the case of the
“Clergy” tartan, wearing this will imply
to people that you are involved in ministry. Out of respect for those who
actually are ordained clergy, most people would consider it very
inappropriate for a non-minister to wear this tartan.
The “Clergy” tartan can be worn by any man of the cloth! Not that members of the clergy have to wear “Clergy” tartan. Many ministers and priests wear their clan tartans. And a solid black kilt looks stunning with clerical dress. And one “Dark Douglas” kilt (Lochcarron’s black on black version of House of Edgar’s “Dark Isle” tartan) is worn by an Anglican priest, who wanted a solid black kilt, but also wanted a tartan.
Canons enjoying the freedom of their unbifurcated garments,
viz., the cassock, featuring the Ancient Clergy Tartan!
The question that pervades the unbifurcated garment is what one might find beneath the “Dark Isle” Tartan of the Highlands.*
* Answer: The future of the Church
Tartan: Ancient Clergy Tartan
Knees Up Father Brown
Tartan: Ancient Clergy Tartan Midi: Knees Up Father Brown