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International Bagpipes Day
"O plaintive Pipes, endearing Drones, resound!
Raise faithful hearts, though brave men break and die!"
~ Ode to the Great Highland Pipes, Joseph Charles MacKenzie
A toast to pipers all over the world on International Bagpipes Day! Various theories set forth dates for the introduction and widespread use of bagpipes to Scotland, particularly in a military context, though the first textual evidence occurs in 1396, when records of the Battle of the North Inch of Perth references "warpipes" being carried into battle! References to evidence of particularly Scottish styled bagpipes, come from poem written in 1598 and later published in The Complaynt of Scotland which refers to several types of pipe, including the Highland: "On hieland pipes, Scotte and Hybernicke / Let heir be shraichs of deadlie clarions." This tartan was designed from the colour and pattern illustrated in the namesake portrait titled "Piper to the Laird of Grant" resident in the National Museum of Scotland by Richard Waitt, 1714, shown playing the Great Highland Bagpipe. Museum notes for this painting identify the subject as William Cumming (c. 1687 - c. 1723). Cumming belonged to a family of Strathspey musicians who served the Lairds of Grant for about 170 years through seven or more generations. As pipers were an important part of the clan chieftain's traditional retinue, William Cumming is symbolically provided with a uniform of livery, tartan, the bratach or heraldic banner, and with the chieftain's head house of Castle Grant in the background. This portrait is one of a pair of portraits commissioned by the Grants - the other is of Alexander Grant Mor, the Laird’s champion, a portrait often misidentified as one of Rob Roy! 🖌️ 🎨
This tartan was designed from an estimated threadcount, taken from the portrait of William Cumming, Piper to the Laird of Grant, by Richard Waitt (1714).
The painting shows a fully developed piob mor (Great Highland bagpipe) with all three drones - the two tenordrones set into an older style fork-shaped stock. Note that the piper is holding the pipe bag under his right arm.
The subject of this painting, William Cumming (c. 1687 - c. 1723) belonged to a family of Strathspey musicians who served the Lairds of Grant for about 170 years through seven or more generations. They were an important part of the clan chieftain's traditional retinue and William Cumming is symbolically provided with a uniform of livery, tartan, the bratach or heraldic banner, and with the chieftain's head house of Castle Grant in the background.
For more on the musical legacy of the Cumming family and Clan Grant, click the portrait!