Claimants to the title of chief are expected to be recognised by the Lord Lyon as the rightful heir to the undifferenced arms of the ancestor of the clan of which the claimant seeks to be recognized as chief.
A chief of a clan is the only person who is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the ancestral founder of the clan.
Scottish clanship contained two complementary but distinct concepts of heritage.
These were firstly the collective heritage of the clan, known as their duthchas, which was their prescriptive right to settle in the territories in which the chiefs and leading gentry of the clan customarily provided protection.
Often, those living on a chief's lands would, over time, adopt the clan surname.
These bonds were reinforced by calps, death duties paid to the chief as a mark of personal allegiance by the family when their head died, usually in the form of their best cow or horse.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".
Historically, a clan was made up of everyone who lived on the chief's territory, or on territory of those who owed allegiance to the said chief.