THE SCOTTISH Government body which registers tartans has come under fire after approving designs for films such as Brave, German pipe smokers and children’s character Peter Rabbit.
Alex Johnstone, Conservative MSP for north-east Scotland, has criticised the Scottish Register of Tartans (SRT), claiming it needs to be changed to save Scotland’s heritage and prevent “shallow and irreverent” tartans.
Currently anyone can design a new tartan and submit it to be considered for official registration to the SRT, which was set up by law in 2008.
The designer also has to submit a £70 non-refundable fee and include details of the proposed name, why the colours were chosen and evidence of their association with the tartan.
The Disney Pixar film Brave had its own tartan created called DunBroch, which was officially registered on 22 June 2012.
Mr Johnstone said: “The regulation of tartan legislation was motivated by the need to protect Scotland’s heritage and ensure it is held in high esteem.
“This means there should be no proliferation of the shallow and irreverent which we are seeing at present.
“I have nothing against German pipe smokers, but a tartan with gold thread through it to represent Golden Virginia tobacco is really quite bizarre.
“The way the Register is behaving only serves to enhance the nonsense it was set up to prevent.
“There is an excellent case here for demanding that the SRT is overhauled to protect our heritage.”
He added that he fully supports “inclusive” tartans such as tartans for Islamic societies or the tartan for asylum seekers in Scotland.
However, Patrick Harvie, Green MSP, says he was puzzled by political designs such as one for the Occupy movement.
He said: “The issues such causes represent are important. But I’m struggling to see how having their own tartan would help defeat capitalism.”
Within the register there are official categories that range from traditional clan and family names to corporate companies and military regiments.
One category is described by the SRT as “fashion or fancy names.”
On the SRT website, Disney and Pixar described why it chose the colours for the tartan.
It wrote: “Much like Scotland itself, the DunBroch Tartan is set against the ocean blue of the North Sea.
“The deep scarlet represents the family’s reverence for its own history, and the blood shed during battles between the clans.
“Deep green shows a love for Scotland’s majestic highlands, where the story of Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave’ unfolds.
“Navy blue, and its clear central intersections, represents the forging of the clans within the DunBroch kingdom. And finally, the subtle grey imbues a sense of respect for the inner soul of the strong Scottish people.”
Peter Rabbit is the fictional character seen in many children’s stories written by Beatrix Potter.
He first appeared in the 1902 story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
The Peter Rabbit tartan was registered on 11 August 2011 and is made with blue, red and yellow colours.
The SRT states that under the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008, the Keeper must refuse to register a tartan “if it is deemed to be frivolous or offensive.”
The body, ran by the National Register of Scotland, a Scottish Government department, says 201 tartans have been added to the register and 62 applications have been refused from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.
James Hunter, emeritus professor of history at the University of the Highlands and Islands, says the SRT should be scrapped altogether and is just a “waste of public money.”
He added: “It does seem really odd to me that, in an allegedly forward-thinking Scotland, we are funding a public body to regulate tartan, if that is what they are doing.
“It is hard to imagine what justification there is for this when money is so scarce. In my view, the Register of Tartans should be done away with.”
The tartans that are registered include colours and themes that represent the interests of those who submit them.
The German pipe smokers’ tartan has red, black and gold which reflect the designer’s German origins and the main tobacco blended for pipe smoking- back for Latakia, brown for Burley and gold for Virginia.
A spokesman for the National Records of Scotland said: “It has long been common for companies to create and register tartans.
“All registered tartans must meet strict criteria as determined by the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008.
“The National Records of Scotland is responsible for ensuring these criteria are met and takes this role very seriously. There is not provision in the act to refuse an application on grounds other than failure to meet the criteria.”