Pipes & Drums of Blackwatch Come to State Theatre Today
The feather bonnet itself is something of a curiosity. Originally, it was a simple Scottish bonnet stuck with a few feathers or tufts of fur. During the Napoleonic Wars, it evolved into an imposing structure that reached full bloom in Victorian times. Originally, it was made of ostrich feathers but today it is made of synthetic material to look like feathers. Surprisingly, unlike the Scots Guards bearskin cap, it is quite light.
The scarlet doublets (Highland jackets decorated with white "Crown and Inch" lace, Inverness skirt flaps and wings) worn by the drummers of The Black Watch have remained virtually the same since 1914. The blue facings denote their royal status. Pipers wear Archer Green Doublets much like those worn before 1914. The cut and style is similar to the drummer's doublet. Pipers also wear a full-body plaid and kilt of Royal Stewart tartan, with silver mounted, buckled waist belts and cross belts. Drummers wear white waist belts with a brass buckle. While it had been worn for some time, the Royal Stewart tartan was officially granted to pipers of the Regiment as a distinction in 1889. Drummers wear a fly plaid and kilt of regimental tartan. Leopard skins are worn by the tenor and bass drummers.
Both pipers and drummers wear a regimental pattern white hair sporran (Highland purse) with five black hair tassels. Sergeants and ranks above (including the Pipe Major and Drum Major as well as all pipers) wear a sporran with a gilt cantle (top). All drummers below the rank of sergeant wear one of black leather surmounted with the regimental badge. All ranks wear red and black diced hose tops, white spats with square toes and black shoes. Both the Pipe Major and the Drum Major wear doublets embellished with gold lace, rank chevrons and appointment insignia on their lower right-hand sleeves. Sergeants and ranks above wear red sashes over their right shoulder and the Pipe Major wears a sash over his left shoulder. N.C.O.'s wear chevrons on the upper right sleeve. The Drum Major carries a staff or mace and wears a sash over his left shoulder bearing the regimental Battle Honors and badge. He also carries a claymore, the Highland broadsword. Both pipers and drummers carry dirks, or Highland daggers, on their waist belts. Drummers also wear decorative cords across their chests in red, yellow and blue as authorized for a Royal regiment.
The regimental dance team, which is drawn from the Pipe Band, wears modified Pipers and Drummers uniforms. This includes glengarries with regimental badges, Archer Green doublets with wings, black or white waist belts, kilts of either Royal Stewart or Government (Black Watch) tartan, Pipers or Drummers sporrans, diced hose tops and "ghilles," Highland dance shoes.