The heritage of paisley not only goes back many hundreds of years but also many thousands of miles. Starting as a modest emblem of spirituality and religion it has travelled from East to West, adorned aristocrats, bikers, hippies, cowboys and fashionistas. It has been an icon through the rock ‘n’ roll era and its recent revamp has seen the pattern back on the catwalk as part of Gucci, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana collections.
We’ve discovered eleven fascinating facts about the ornamental design:
- The original name of the design is ‘boteh’, meaning shrub in Persian. But as its existence evolved and became synonymous with India, the name became ‘buta’ translating as flower.
- The symbol emanates positive connotations as a Zoroastrian symbol of eternity and life.
- Originating in Persian culture, the modest motif is believed to have derived from the cypress tree which is often referred to as the tree of life, as it has provided copious communities with food, water, shelter and materials for weaving.
(Cypress tree on a frieze at Persepolis)
- From as early as the 17th century in the most northern town of India, the boteh pattern was being woven into textiles made of Pashmina (a fine type of cashmere wool). Pašmina, meaning ‘made from wool’ in Persian came to be known as ‘cashmere’ in the West because Europeans first encountered this fibre in Kashmir.
- The town of Paisley in Scotland was a major producer of silk goods in the 18th and 19th century and quickly became the epicentre of European production of the pattern along with being the Anglo namesake. This began as the Napoleonic wars interrupted the importation of the shawls from India and Scottish manufacturing started to meet the growing demand. (Paisley Abbey - Scotland)
- Paisely can be seen as early as 1880 in the Liberty of London collection and was a favourite design of Arthur Lasenby Liberty.
- The Victorian Era saw the development of the pattern being wood block printed as well as weaved, further propelling paisleys popularity as it became available to the masses as manufacturing became cheaper.
(Woodblock printing vs woven processes)
Image credits: The Beckett Blog & Arty Crafty.
- The psychedelic pattern became intrinsically linked with the 60’s and 70’s being reintroduced in vibrant varying colours. Its popularity surged, being a favourable fabric of the Beatles and John Lennon even painted his Rolls Royce with a paisley design.
- The singer Prince paid tribute to the rock and roll history of paisley when he created the Paisley Park Records recording label and established Paisley Park Studios, both named after his 1985 song "Paisley Park".
- In the United States ‘Paisley’ is known among fabric designers as ‘Persian pickles’ or in the Welsh textile industry as ‘Welsh pears’.
- Through its roots in spirituality, art and free expression, Paisely has become strongly associated with Bohemianism, even being symbolic of the lifestyle.
Or for a showstopper wardrobe piece our Paisley jacket is certainly eye-catching and will beautifully finish any outfit.
Our comfortable, soft paisley jumper is certainly the most versatile of all the pieces as it can be worn for both casual and occasion wear depending on how you pair it!
Is the paisley pattern one of your favourites? What paisley pieces do you have in your wardrobe? Let us know in the comments below.