Did you know that the Paisley design is sometimes called Persian Pickles? I didn’t until I got the Paisley bug and started to poke about the topic a little.
The pattern can be traced back more than 2,000 years. The Paisley is some argue is Persian in origin, adapted in India and copied in Britian.
The main element of Paisley is the distinct droplet tear drop shape, a motif which resembles a large comma, is actually is a buta or boteh. Monique Levi-Strauss, in The Cashmere Shawl states that
“The origins and symbolism of the pine (boteh, as it is known in Kashmir) I can offer the following brief explanation: this motif probably first appeared in Persia or India but there is such controversy on the subject that it is very difficult to opt for any one of the many hypotheses. Much has been written about its probable significance, from “Tree of life” to “mango,” with others opting for “cypress” and “palm” on the way …”
Others trace the motif to ancient Babylon where the shape represents the growing shoot of a date palm. The palm was used to provide food and the fibre was woven into textiles. The palm became regarded as ‘The Tree of Life’, with its growing shoot being gradually accepted as a fertility symbol.
What we know as Kashmir shawls is thought to have begun being woven in Kashmir during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The East India Company introduced woven shawls from Kashmir to Europe. As richly patterned garments they quickly became popular and European weavers were quick to copy them. In 1805, the weavers of Paisley increased production on Jacquard looms , and the sheer numbers of “Paisley shawls” gave the design its name.
For images of paisley design search Scottish Textile Heritage online typing in Paisley into their image gallery search brings up a number of shawls and designs from the Glasgow school of art. Of particular interest is a pattern book of colourful cashmere and silk woven borders
The Paisley Museum and Art Gallery holds a famous collection of Paisley shawls.
I have to make a fabric postcard for the monthly 6 x 4 lives challenge and digging through the posts from those who have the paisley bug has my mind twisting into paisley patterns … lets see what tomorrow will bring with two days to the end of the month my needles will be flying.
The image above by the way is my favourite scarf which I purchased in China when we were there on a visit. In Winter not a week goes by without me wearing it with something as the colours seem to fit just about everything in my wardrobe. It is pashmir and silk so I thought I would give you a bit of eye candy.