|.: Manx tartan
The Manx tartan was invented in 1890s after a long-running battle between the ladies of the Island about who could dress the most stylishly on Tynwald Day.
At the annual ceremony in St John’s, it became fashionable for women to wear larger and larger hats to outdo each other. The picture was taken in 1885 and shows Mrs Athenboggle Quirk, who was married to Ayre MHK Fuartangle Quirk.
But the practice had to be regulated after 1887 after a fresh breeze sprang out of the West halfway through the procession of the worthies to Tynwald Hill from the Royal Chapel.
The scale of the hats was out of all proportion to the ability of the human neck to resist, and the wind took hold of the enormous pieces of millinery.
The result was tragedy – eight ladies dead from snapped necks caused by the wind and weight of their hats, and another fifteen seriously injured.
In the aftermath, the more sensible men of Tynwald passed a resolution strictly controlling the size and weight of hats that may be worn on the Island’s national day.
The laws survive to this day, making it illegal for a lady to wear a hat ‘whose highest point doth stand more than three handspans above the highest point of the eyelash’.
In response, the Laxey Woolen Mills created the Manx tartan, a mixture of green, blue, gold, purple and white, and sold a variety of hat designs in the fabric.
Officially, the colours were chosen to fit the following rhyme:
Blue for the Sea,
Green for the hills,
Gold for the gorse,
Purple for the heather,
White for the cottages.
But some Victorian wag quickly adapted the poem and has this alternative version published in the Mona’s Gazette letters pages:
Blue for the mood,
Green for the seasickness,
Gold for the banks,
Purple for the writing of TE Brown
White for the Island bled dry by the English
Although the original poem did survive to the present day, the latter is more widely used in the Isle of Man to describe the tartan pattern.
Labels: isle of man, manx, tartan, tynwald
Written at 16:12 by
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