Here at Collettesilk we love a bit of Paisley pattern, as seen on our Mini Twill scarf shown above. We have given ours a slightly more modern twist using current season colourways. However, not many people know where the pattern originated so here is a brief history.
Some sources say it was originated in Ancient Babylon (now Iraq) possibly around 1700BCE whilst others believe in came from the city of Yadz in Iran who's fabrics (called Termeh) made from Silk and Wool often included the paisley form. Another common theory is that it came from Persia some time between 200-650 AD.
Whichever original source the pattern itself permeated throughout the Middle East, Caucasus and central Asia.
The Paisley symbol itself is probably best described as a curving teardrop or kidney shape. The symbol was called Boteh (the Persian word for a shrub or cluster of leaves) The word Boteh eventually became Buta (almond or bud) which is still used as the national symbol of Azerbaijan.
However, the paisley pattern has also been linked with ancient Celtic tradition with examples of similar style patterns dating back as far as the Iron Age found on excavated items.
The pattern mainly evolved around Kashmir where woven paisley shawls were worn by men for ceremonies.
The British Connection
Production of paisley pattern fabrics began in 1790 where factories in Norwich began copying styles brought in from Kashmir by the East India Company although at the time they were only produced using 2 colours The far superior(and much more expensive) Kashmiri versions had many more colours due to their superior weaving techniques. Shortly after factories in the Scottish town of Paisley took over and at it's peak employed around 6000 weavers. Such was it's impact on the production the pattern attained its name of 'Paisley'
In the 19th Century the Paisley Shawl was a must have fashion item (much like the Hermes Scarf today).
But as with most fashions they fell out of fashion and it was not until the late 1960's that they truly returned. Carnaby Street in London was the epicentre of this revival. Pop stars of the day, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and The Who were instrumental in promoting and catapulting the Paisley pattern into fashion boutiques across the land.
It's now become a staple pattern and still features in many Catwalk collections. The pop star Prince was also a great fan naming an album Paisley Park, followed by Paisley Park Records and Paisley Park Studio. Even including the word in several song lyrics.
This is just a brief summary of a very influential pattern. If you wish to know more head on over to Paisleypower.com