Of Tartans and Pandas


Edinburgh Zoo Panda Tartan and Tian Tian

Tartans have been woven and worn by the Celts and then the Scots for nearly three thousand years. Originally tartan patters would signify where the wearer lived, later clan specific tartans appeared, and today there are many tartan categories. A recent addition to the commemorative tartan category is the Edinburgh Zoo Panda Tartan.


On December 4, 2011 two adult pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, arrived at the Edinburgh Zoo on loan from China. In honor of these new additions to the zoo, and timed to coincide with both Burns Night and the Chinese New Year, the zoo commissioned the tartan with Kinloch Anderson, a family company specializing in highland dress, and officially registered the design with the Scottish Register of Tartans.


The tartan’s sett (different from the weaving term) was based upon the family tartan of zoo founder Thomas Gillespie. The colors of the tartan are black, white, and grey like the fur of the pandas with one green line representing bamboo and three red lines to represent China.

Model Kirsty Franey models the
tartan as Tian Tian supervises.
Photo by Jon-Paul Orsi,
courtesy of the Edinburgh Zoo 


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