Paisley (design)

Shawl made in Paisley, Scotland, in imitation of Kashmir shawls, c. 1830

Paisley or paisley pattern is an ornamental textile design using the boteh (Persian: بته‎) or buta, a teardrop-shaped motif with a curved upper end. Of Persian origin,[1] paisley designs became very popular in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries, following imports of post–Mughal Empire versions of the design from India, especially in the form of Kashmir shawls, and were then replicated locally.[2]

Although the pine cone or almond-like form is of Persian origin, and the textile designs cramming many of them into a rich pattern are originally Indian, the English name for the patterns derives from the town of Paisley, in the west of Scotland, a centre for textiles where paisley designs were produced.[3] The pattern is sometimes called "Persian pickles" by American traditionalists, especially quiltmakers, or "Welsh pears" in Wales.

Persian silk brocade with gold and silver thread (golabetoon), woven in 1963.

The pattern is still commonly seen in Britain and other English-speaking countries on men's ties, waistcoats, and scarfs, and remains popular in other items of clothing and textiles in Iran and South and Central Asian countries.


Shawl fragment, India, 19th century

Some design scholars[who?] believe the buta is the convergence of a stylized floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity.[4] The "bent" cedar is also a sign of strength and resistance but modesty. The floral motif was originated in the Sassanid dynasty and later in the Safavid dynasty of Persia (1501–1736), and was a major textile pattern in Iran during the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties. In these periods, the pattern was used to decorate royal regalia, crowns, and court garments, as well as textiles used by the general population.[citation needed] Persian and Central Asian designs usually range the motifs in orderly rows, with a plain background.

Ancient Indo-Iranian originsEdit

Boteh Jehgeh, or "ancient motif", more commonly known as paisley, has a mysterious origin with much speculation on its early meaning and mythology surrounding its symbolism.[5] With experts contesting different time periods for its emergence, to understand the proliferation in the popularity of Boteh Jehgeh design and eventually Paisley, it is important to understand South Asian history. The early Indo-Iranian people flourished in South Asia, where, they eventually exchanged linguistic, cultural, and even religious similarities.[6] The ancient Indo-Iranian people shared a religion called Zoroastrianism.[7] Zoroastrianism, some experts argue, served as one of the earliest influences for Boteh Jegeh's design with the shape representing the cypress tree, an ancient zoroastrian religious symbol.[7] Others contest that the earliest representation of the patterns shape comes from the Sassanid Dynasty, who lived in modern-day Iran, dating to more than 2,200 years BC and remained in power until the 3rd century AD.[8] The design was representative of a tear drop.[8] Some will argue that Boteh Jehgeh's origins stem from old religious beliefs and its meaning could symbolize the sun, a phoenix, or even an ancient Iranian religious sign for an eagle.[5] Around the same time, a pattern called Boteh was gaining popularity in Iran, the pattern was a floral design, and was used as a high class decoration, mostly serving to decorate royal items that belonged to those of high status.[8] It was said to have been a pattern worn to represent elite social status, such as that of nobility. The pattern was traditionally woven onto silk clothing using silver and gold material.[8] The earliest evidence of the design being traded with other cultures was found at the red sea, where it is predicted that the earliest trades took place as far back as the 15th century, with both Egyptian and Greek peoples.[citation needed]

Introduction of Boteh Jegeh to Western cultureEdit

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company was using old silk road routes to trade goods between India and Great Britain, Kashmir shawls from India eventually made their way to England and Scotland where they were extremely fashionable and soon duplicated.[9] The first place in the western world to imitate the design was the town of Paisley in Scotland, Europe's top producer of textiles at this time.[10] Before being produced in Paisley, thus gaining its name in western culture, the paisley design was originally referred to by westerners simply as just pine and cone design.[11] Technological innovation in textile manufacturing around this time made it so that western imitations of Kashmir shawls became competitive with Indian made shawls from Kashmir.[12] With the industrial revolution taking place in Europe, paisley shawls were manufactured at an industrial rate, and while the shawls from India could be quite expensive at the time, factory manufactured shawls made it so that the fashion became common place amongst middle-class people, thus boosting the designs popularity even more.[11] While the western world appropriated much of eastern culture and design, the Boteh design was by far the most popular.[12] Records indicate that William Moorcroft, an English businessman and explorer visited the Himalayan mountains in the mid 19th century, upon his arrival he was enthralled by Boteh designed Kashmir shawls and tried to arrange for entire families of Indian textile workers to move their lives to the United Kingdom.[13] The earliest paisley shawls made in the United Kingdom, in Paisley Scotland were made out of fleece, a material that is put together in such away that one side can be described as containing a soft, fluffy texture. When introduced into western culture, the paisley shawls were primarily worn by males and were worn for ceremonial purposes. As time went on and the paisley shawls began to integrate more into western culture, the design was worn less for ceremonial purposes and came to be seen by society more as a fashionable style of clothing. With the shift in how western cultures wore paisley, it eventually became a style primarily worn by women instead of men. While still holding an accurate resemblance to its original influence, the paisley design would begin to change once it began to be produced in western culture, with different towns in the United Kingdom applying their own spin to the design.[14] Strangely, in what baffles some historians and experts, paisley fell out of fashion in the 1870s and did not come back into style for years to come.[15] Some believe that especially in the beginning of the early 20th century, widespread "orientalism" lead to many seeing the paisley shawls as that of uncivilized.[15] The 1960s proved to be a massive revival for the paisley design in western culture, in the 1960s, popular culture in the United States developed a sort of fixation on eastern cultures in which many traditionally Indian styles became popularized. Paisley served as one of the styles to be revived, being worn by the likes of The Beatles, even the guitar company Fender used the design to decorate one of their most famous guitars, the Fender Telecaster. Today, the design can be found in all aspects of our culture, for example the design appears on jewelry, wedding gloves, suit ties, pocket books, cake decorations, tattoos, mouse pads for computers, scarfs, and dresses just to name a few things, the list goes on and on. The pattern also influences furniture design internationally, with many countries using the paisley design for things such as wallpaper, pillows, curtains, and bed spreads to name a few.[11]

From the East India Company in the first half of the 17th century made paisley and other Indian patterns popular, and the Company was unable to import enough to meet the demand. It was popular in the Baltic states between 1700 and 1800 and was thought to be used as a protective charm to ward away demons.[citation needed]

Local manufacturers in Marseille began to mass-produce the patterns via early textile printing processes at 1640. England, circa 1670, and Holland, in 1678, soon followed. This, in turn, provided Europe's weavers with more competition than they could bear, and the production and import of printed paisley was forbidden in France by royal decree from 1686 to 1759. However, enforcement near the end of that period was lax, and France had its own printed textile manufacturing industry in place as early at 1746 in some locales. Paisley was not the only design produced by French textile printers; the demand for paisley which created the industry there also made possible production of native patterns such as toile de Jouy.[16]

In the 19th century, European production of paisley increased, particularly in the Scottish town from which the pattern takes its modern name. Soldiers returning from the colonies brought home cashmere wool shawls from India, and the East India Company imported more. The design was copied from the costly silk and wool Kashmir shawls and adapted first for use on handlooms, and, after 1820,[17] on Jacquard looms.

From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland, became the foremost producers of Paisley shawls. Unique additions to their hand-looms and Jacquard looms allowed them to work in five colours when most weavers were producing paisley using only two.[17] The design became known as the Paisley pattern. By 1860, Paisley could produce shawls with 15 colours, which was still only a quarter of the colors in the multicolour paisleys then still being imported from Kashmir.[17] In addition to the loom-woven fabric, the town of Paisley became a major site for the manufacture of printed cotton and wool in the 19th century, according to the Paisley Museum and Art Galleries.[18] The paisley pattern was being printed, rather than woven, onto other textiles, including cotton squares which were the precursors of the modern bandanna. Printed paisley was cheaper than the costly woven paisley and this added to its popularity. The key places of printing paisley were Britain and the Alsace region of France.[19]

At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Azerbaijan's team sported colorful paisley trousers.[20] It was the emblem of the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, held in Azerbaijan.

Islamic control in South Asia and spread of the patternEdit

In Persian language, Boteh can be translated to shrub or bush, while in Kashmir (India) it carried the same meaning but was referred to as Buta, or Bu.[11] One of the earliest evidence of the pattern as it relates to Islamic culture has been found at Noh Gumba mosque, in the city of Blakh in Afghanistan, where it is predicted that the pattern was included in the design as early as the 800s when the mosque was built. In early Iranian culture, the design was woven onto Termeh, one of the most valuable materials in early Iran where the design served to make clothing for the nobility. At this time, the Iranian nobility wore distinct uniforms called Khalaat, historically, the design was commonly found on the Khalaat uniforms.[14] It is stated that at some point in the 15th century, Boteh was transported from Persia to Kashmir.[11] In the same century, in the 1400s, some of the earliest recorded Kashmir shawls were produced in India, records from the 1500s, during Emperor Akbar's reign over the Mughal people in this area indicate that shawl making was already fashionable in India prior to Mughal conquest which took place in the early 1400s.[13] It has been stated that during Emperor Akbars reign over the Mughal empire, Boteh Jehgeh shawls were extremely popular and fashionable. While one shawl was traditionally worn previously, it was during the rule of Emperor Akbar that the emperor decided to wear two shawls at a time to serve as a status symbol. Along with wearing the shawls frequently, Emperor Akbar also used the shawls as gifts to other rulers and high officials.[13] It is believed that by the 18th century, Kashmir shawls were produced in the image that someone today would associate with modern paisley.[11]

Paisley bandanasEdit

A red bandana with a paisley pattern

While today, some people associate bandanas with cowboys, paisley bandanas served an integral item in American fashion history. The modern paisley bandana was made popular during the late 1700s and their popularity in the United States coincide with the American revolution. George Washington is said[by whom?] to have worn a paisley bandana as a scarf, the popular way of wearing bandanas at that time.[citation needed] Eventually in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, paisley bandanas were being printed containing political and military advertisements on them.[citation needed] Bandanas became an increasingly utilized tool in the spread of pro war propaganda during the early and mid 20th century when World War 1 and World War 2 were being fought. It was thought that by purchasing and sporting a pro-war paisley bandana, the person was helping to support their country in winning the war.[citation needed] The Paisley bandana started to feature in countless numbers of western movies and thus took on the symbol of the American west.[citation needed] Previous to the 1970s, paisley bandanas were worn by many blue collar and labor workers in an effort to keep dust away from their mouths and noses, the bandana's symbolism once again shifted in American minds, being associated with hard work.[citation needed] In the 1960s, famous country singer Willie Nelson adopted the paisley bandana style, and the trend soon became popular with men who rode Harley Davidson motorcycles.[citation needed] It was not until the 1970s that the paisley bandana would be associated with United States gang culture. It was around this time that paisley bandanas were starting to become popular amongst gangs in California, predominantly with two opposing gangs, the bloods who would wear red bandanas and the crips who would wear blue bandanas.[21]

Modern men's tie, before 1996

Paisley became identified with psychedelic style due to a resurgence in the pattern's mainstream popularity leading up the mid- and late 1960s, partly due to The Beatles.[22] Consequently, the style was particularly popular during the Summer of Love in 1967. The company Fender made a pink paisley version of their Telecaster guitar, by sticking paisley wallpaper onto the guitar bodies.[23][24] 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". The Paisley Underground was a music scene active around the same time.

Paisley was a favorite design element of British-Indian architect Laurie Baker. He has made numerous drawings and collages of what he called "mango designs".[25] He used to include the shape in the buildings he designed also.[26]

In other languagesEdit

The modern French words for paisley are boteh, cachemire ("cashmere"; not capitalized, which would mean "Kashmir, the region") and palme ("palm", which – along with the pine and the cypress – is one of the traditional botanical motifs thought to have influenced the shape of the paisley element as it is now known).[4][27][failed verification]

In various languages of India and Pakistan, the design's name is related to the word for mango:[28]

In Chinese, it is known as the "ham hock pattern" (Chinese: 火腿纹; pinyin: huǒtuǐwén).[31] In Russia, this ornament is known as "cucumbers" (огурцы).[32][33]

Boteh is a Persian word meaning bush, cluster of leaves or a flower bud.[34]



  1. ^ Review of Textile Progress. 8. Textile Institute. 1956. p. 257. The so-called 'Paisley' pattern, therefore, is a direct copy of the Indian Pine Cone motif, which was, in turn, of Persian origin.
  2. ^ Dusenbury and Bier, 48–50
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford.
  4. ^ a b Indian Hand Woven Jacquard Jamavar Shawls, Zanzibar Trading.
  5. ^ a b " | A GLANCE AT THE FIGURE OF BOTEH JEGHEH (ANCIENT MOTIF)". Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  6. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hasan; Masson, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich (1999). History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1407-3.
  7. ^ a b Ringer, Monica (2011-12-13). Pious Citizens: Reforming Zoroastrianism in India and Iran. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-5060-7.
  8. ^ a b c d McGuire, Brian (2013-01-24). "Roots of the Paisley Pattern". Paisley Scotland. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  9. ^ Baker, Lindsay. "Paisley: The story of a classic bohemian print". Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  10. ^ "What is paisley? | Macmillan Dictionary Blog". Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Buta to Paisley An ongoing Journey - Laureate Legal Terms and...Paisley A motif- * Intensively used in ... palm tree leaf Pearl Academy, ... In Kashmir the name used to describe this motif is buta or buti". Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  12. ^ a b Maskiell, Michelle (2002). "Consuming Kashmir: Shawls and Empires, 1500-2000". Journal of World History. 13: 27–65. doi:10.1353/jwh.2002.0019.
  13. ^ a b c Karpinski, Caroline (November 1963). "Kashmir to Paisley". The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. 22 (3): 116–123. doi:10.2307/3258212. JSTOR 3258212.
  14. ^ a b Novin, Guity. "A History of Graphic Design: Chapter 92 - A history of Paisley or Boteh Jegheh Design". A History of Graphic Design. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  15. ^ a b Welters, Linda; Beasley, Elizabeth; Dee-Collins, Nicole; Gilcrease, Sallie; Lukens, Catherine (2017-01-01). "Second Chances for Paisley Shawls". International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) Annual Conference Proceedings.
  16. ^ "The Prohibition Years, 1686–1759", Le Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes [The Museum of Printed Textiles], retrieved February 3, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c Andrews, Meg, Beyond the Fringe: Shawls of Paisley Design, Victoriana, retrieved February 3, 2008. Heavily illustrated history of paisley fashions.
  18. ^ "Paisley Museum and Art Gallery", About Britain.
  19. ^ "Printed 'Paisley' in the 19th Century", Le Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes [The Museum of Printed Textiles], retrieved February 3, 2008.
  20. ^ "Vancouver 2010: The Olympics of the Silly Pants", Tonic.
  21. ^ "Ethnic Dress in the United States: A Cultural Encyclopedia2016 010 Edited by Annette Lynch and Mitchell D.Strauss Ethnic Dress in the United States: A Cultural Encyclopedia Lanham, MD Rowman & Littlefield 2015 x + 326 pp. 9780759121485(print) 9780759121508(e-book) £49.95 $75". Reference Reviews. 30 (1): 17. 2016-01-18. doi:10.1108/rr-09-2015-0225. ISSN 0950-4125.
  22. ^ "Paisley: The story of a classic bohemian print".
  23. ^
  24. ^ "1968 Fender Paisley Telecaster and Telecaster Bass".
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2016-01-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "The mango house". 2008-07-24.
  27. ^ Sharon B (Aug 29, 2006), A prune or a pickle: the process of working up a small design, Wordpress, retrieved February 3, 2008.
  28. ^ "Paisley Pattern : The ever favourite Fabric Pattern revisited – Sew Guide". Sew Guide. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  29. ^ Zaman Niaz (1993). The Art of KANTHA Embroidery (Second Revised ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: The University Press Limited. p. 82. ISBN 978-984-05-1228-7.
  30. ^ "Urdu and Punjabi: Kerii".
  31. ^ Baike, Baidu.
  32. ^ "Журнал любопытных вещей | Paisley — благородный орнамент, "слеза Аллаха", турецкий боб или просто "огурец"".
  33. ^ "The Best Guide | Узор Paisley".
  34. ^ "Boteh (Botteh, Paisley). Aryan Silk & Trade". Retrieved 2019-06-04.


  • Dusenbury, Mary M. and Bier, Carol, Flowers, Dragons & Pine Trees: Asian Textiles in the Spencer Museum of Art, 2004, Hudson Hills, ISBN 1555952380, 9781555952389, p. 48
  • F. Petri, Origin of the Book of the Dead Angient Egipt. 1926. June part 2 с 41–45
  • С. Ашурбейли «Новые изыскания по истории Баку и Девичьей башни» Альманах искусств 1972 г, С.Ашурбейли «О датировке и назначении Гыз галасы в крепости» Элм. 1974 г.

Further readingEdit

{{DEFAULTSORT:Paisley (Design)}