California Tartan Honors John Muir



California State Tartan California now has an official State Tartan, honoring the memory of John Muir and other Scottish immigrants to California. The State Tartan is based on the Muir Clan tartan, in honor of the great Scottish-born naturalist. This tartan is representative of the Scottish heritage of millions of Scottish-Californians, but the law expressly provides that the State Tartan is one that all California residents may "claim as their own."


What is a Tartan?

A tartan is a special kind of cloth design from Scotland. The design consists of stripes of various widths and colors. The stripes cross at right angles against a solid color background. The principal clans in Scotland, especially the clans in the Highlands, have their own tartans. In the United States, the word tartan also means a cloth or a garment with a tartan design. The cloth that is used to make a tartan is usually wool. A tartan design is called a "sett."

The California State Tartan adopts an existing sett created expressly for this purpose. The California State District Tartan is duly registered and accepted as such by The Scottish Tartans Society and was entered in The Registry of All Known Tartans as TS 2454 on the 3rd of June, 1998. It was registered, as well, by The Scottish Tartans Authority as Tartan 200111.

The tartan accords the State's natural splendor and history and is derived from the pattern and sett based on the Muir Family tartan, but with sufficient originality to be registered with the Scottish Tartans Society as a unique tartan. The tartan's blue reflects the sky, the Pacific, the rivers and mountains, while the green reflects the Sierras, fields, forests, and parks. The red, gold, and blue signify the arts, sciences, and industry of the people of the State of California.

Effective January 1, 2002, the California Legislature has proclaimed April 6 annually as "California Tartan Day." The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, which was signed on April 6, 1320. To some extent, the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on that inspirational document. Coincidentally, April 6 is also "California Poppy Day" (so designated in 1974 pursuant to Government Code § 421; Education Code § 37222(a)(3)) - - linking - quite by accident -- Scottish culture and California's State Flower on our state commemorative calendar!

The tartan was designed by Messrs. J. Howard Standing, Esq., of Tarzana, California, and Thomas Ferguson of Sydney, British Columbia.

All residents of the State of California can rightfully wear, and show the tartan as their own!

Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Standing

Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Standing model the California tartan.
Photo by permission of Jim Anderson, © Bonbright Woolens, Inc. 2000, all rights reserved.

The Legislation

The legislation, AB 614, enacted California Government Code Section 424.3, which officially designates the California District Tartan as the official California State Tartan. The Secretary of State recorded the signed legislation on Tuesday, July 24, 2001. it is interesting to note that throughout the entire complex legislative process, there was never a single dissenting vote cast. This included a total of five voting sessions, including committees and floor votes.

The California State Tartan was designed by J. Howard Standing, 2001 president, and past president, past V.P., past treasurer of the St. Andrews Society of Los Angeles, and a member of the St. Andrews Society of Southern California, and Thomas Ferguson. The concept was largely campaigned for by the St. Andrews Society of Los Angeles. A leader of that organization, Christopher Gray Lamberton, FSA Scot, Past President (1995-1997) of the St. Andrews Society of Southern California, President St. Andrews Foundation of Southern California, and Regional High Commissioner (AZ, CA, HI, NV) of the Clan Stewart Society in America, conceived the idea of a petition drive and wrote the original draft, which was then fine-tuned by J. Howard Standing.

Californians owe a debt of gratitude to the citizens who conceived and promoted the new State Tartan. Especially important was J. Howard Standing for conceiving the idea, and for designing the tartan. His tireless efforts made all the rest possible. Thanks also to Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, and Assemblyman Bill Campbell, for raising the banner, and introducing this bill in the State Assembly. Senator Bruce McPherson deserves thanks for his support and efforts in the State Senate.


J. Howard Standing - co-creator of California Tartan

Mr. J. Howard Standing displays a banner made with the California Tartan.
Photo by permission of R. M. Richards © 2000, all rights reserved.

Sources of information and Thanks to:
J. Howard Standing
Christopher Gray Lamberton

Scottish Tartans World Register: California

California District Tartan WR2454











More on Tartans

Comparison of California Tartan and Muir Tartan

California District Tartan
California TS Number: TS2454
Class District
Details California Official State Tartan

Status: Assembly Bill 614 was passed by the State Assembly and Senate on July 23rd 2001. Governor Davis approved and signed the Assembly Bill 614 on July 24th 2001 which was subsequently filled with the Secretary of State.
Source: J Howard Standing & Thomas Ferguson
sIndex BKB:YKG
Thread Count LB8, K2, B56, K32, G20, R4, G20, R8, G20, R4, G20, K2, Y8
Muir Tartan
More / Muir
TS Number: TS345 Class: Clan
Details: The Muir tartan has the traditional blue - black - green base, but with an unusual motif of three narrow red stripes appearing twice on the green square. A similar device is seen in the Cochrane tartan. The threadcount of this illustration comes from a sample in the collection of John MacGregor Hastie, who collected tartans between 1930 and 1950, and whose work formed the basis of the archive at the Scottish Tartans Society. The tartan was documented in John Ross's, 'Land of the Scottish Gael' published in 1930.
Source: 'Land of the Scottish Gael', John Ross.
sIndex BKG:YKG
Thread Count B120, K30, G20, R4, G20, R4, G20, R4, G20, K2, Y8


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