Today, anyone who has the chief's surname is automatically considered to be a member of the chief's clan.
Also, anyone who offers allegiance to a chief becomes a member of the chief's clan, unless the chief decides not to accept that person's allegiance.
Many clans have their own clan chief; those that do not are known as armigerous clans.
Clans generally identify with geographical areas originally controlled by their founders, sometimes with an ancestral castle and clan gatherings, which form a regular part of the social scene.
except when a married woman takes that of her husband's surname, and then on to her children.
Under Scots law, the chief is recognised as the head of the clan and serves as the lawful representative of the clan community.
Historically, tartan designs were associated with Lowland and Highland districts whose weavers tended to produce cloth patterns favoured in those districts.
By process of social evolution, it followed that the clans/families prominent in a particular district would wear the tartan of that district, and it was but a short step for that community to become identified by it.
In such cases, these arms are differenced from the chief's, much like a clan armiger.
The former Lord Lyon King of Arms, Thomas Innes of Learney stated that such societies, according to the Law of Arms, are considered an "indeterminate cadet".