Perfectly Paisley

The Paisley pattern is an ornamental design that employs the boteh or buta, a Persian teardrop-shaped motif with a curved upper end, said to be a Persian symbol of fertility. This motif became particularly popularised during the 18th and 19th centuries, in which the motif was employed in an intricate, decorative pattern, which was originally influenced by the imports of post-Mughal Empire textiles from India, in the form of Kashmir shawls.  

Though the tear-drop motif design is of Persian origin, the concept of using this motif to create boldly colourful and intricately abstract designs, stems from India. Furthermore, the English name for the pattern itself derives from the town of Paisley in Scotland, an epicentre for where paisley designed textiles were produced. The town of Paisley is now even bidding to be UK City of Culture for 2021, attained from its history that is acutely entwined with the iconic print.

From its archaic Persian and Indian roots, entrenched with mystery and symbolism, this iconic pattern has had quite the cultural journey. The Paisley pattern has migrated across the world from East to West, adorning almost every modern trapping, including the bandanna’s of American cowboys and bikers, ties and bows, dresses and trousers, jewellery, furnishings, it has been the creative subject of abstract artists and it has had a particularly prevalent moment in Western history, by having a significant impact on the Boho era of ‘The Beatles’, becoming the trademark pattern of rock ‘n’ roll swank and swagger.

Paisley can be seen sported, by strutting and swaggering personages such as, David Bowie, Prince (who actually named his record label and studio ‘Paisley Park’), Paul Weller, Bobby Gillespie, Liam Gallagher and the like. John Lennon even went so far as to paint his Rolls-Royce with the decorative pattern. Naturally it became a representative of this psychedelic era with its wonderfully, dizzying and kaleidoscopic patterns collaborating very well with the hippy ambience of the 19th century.

The deeply cultured history of paisley, has ensured its constant reappearance throughout our textiles, art and creations. Perhaps its immortality actually stems from the rich blends of culture and historicism, making it something that can always be re-adapted and re-interpreted throughout human existence. Why not give it a try?

As featured in the January 2021  ScrawlrBox

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