Paisley or Paisley pattern is a droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Indian and Persian origin.

Interest in cultures outside the home culture had been a feature of the ruling classes during the imperial age, but awareness of the world as a whole was imparted to other classes and greatly expanded during and after the Second World War.

Lilypad Paisley

Paisley fabric, of a succinct color palette. Kashmiri paisley fabric of the 19th C had as many as 60 colors

Beatniks and other travellers, returning with garb from faraway lands, led the movement to adopt new fashions by example.

Paisley became particularly popular during the Summer of Love (WP), heavily identified with psychedelic (WP) style and the interest in Indian spirituality and culture brought about by the pilgrimage of The Beatles to India in 1968. Also, Fender Guitars made a Pink Paisley version of their Telecaster guitar, by sticking paisley wallpaper onto the guitar bodies.

The modern recording artist Prince paid tribute to the rock and roll (WP) 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 pattern is sometimes called "Persian pickles" by American traditionalists, especially quiltmakers,[1] or "Welsh pears" in Welsh textiles as far back as 1888.[2]

Paisley pattern

Paisley wallpaper


Resembling a twisted teardrop, or half of an Taijitu (Yin Yang symbol), the essential paisley shape is Iranian and Indian in origin, but its western name derives from the town of Paisley, in central Scotland.[3]

In Tamil the design is known as Mankolam and has long been used in India. It resembles a mango and has sometimes been associated with Hinduism.[4][5]

In Persian the design is known as Boteh Begheh and it has been used in Iran since the Sassanid Dynasty.

Some design scholars call the distinctive shape Boteh and believe it is the convergence of a stylized floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity.[6] A floral motif called Buteh,[7] which originated in the Sassanid Dynasty (200–650 AD) and later in the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (from 1501 to 1736), was a major textile pattern in Iran during the Qajar Dynasty and Pahlavi Dynasty. In these periods, the pattern was used to decorate royal regalia, crowns, and court garments, as well as textiles used by the general population. According to Azerbaijani historians, the design comes from ancient times of Zoroastrianism as an expression of essence of that religion and it became subsequently a decor element which is widely used in Azerbaijani culture and architecture.[8]


Traditional Uzbekistan doppi headdress scattered with Paisley shapes

The pattern is still popular in Iran and South and Central Asian countries. It is woven using gold or silver threads on silk or other high quality textiles for gifts, for weddings and special occasions. In Iran and Uzbekistan its use goes beyond clothing – paintings, jewelry, frescoes, curtains, tablecloths, quilts, carpets, garden landscaping, and pottery also sport the buta design. In Uzbekistan the traditional doppi headdress is frequently decorated with paisley.

The modern French words for paisley are boteh and palme, the latter being a reference to the palm tree, 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.[6][9]

In Pakistan, Paisley designs are widely termed the Carrey design. Carrey in Urdu means mango seed.[citation needed]

In Punjab, this pattern is referred to as an "Ambi". Ambi is derived from the word Amb which means mango in Punjabi.[citation needed]

European introductionEdit

Printed Tissue Stamp

Hand stamp for printing traditional "paisley" designs, Isfahan, Iran

Imports 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 European Baltic states between 1700 and 1800 and was thought to be used as a protective charm to ward off evil demons. However, in modern culture, the youth of these countries have used it as a symbol of rebellion.

Local manufacturers in Marseilles 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.[10]

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,[11] on Wikipedia:Jacquard looms.

Paisley Ties

A rack of Paisley ties

From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland, became the foremost producers of these shawls. Unique additions to their handlooms and Jacquard looms permitted them to work in five colors when most weavers were producing paisley using only two.[11] The design became known as the Paisley pattern. By 1860, Paisley could produce shawls with fifteen colors, which was still only a quarter of the colors in the multi-color paisleys then still being imported from Kashmir.[11]

In addition to the loom-woven fabric, Paisley became a major site for the manufacture of printed cotton and wool in the 19th century, according to the Scotland's Paisley Museum and Art Gallery.[12] The paisley pattern was being printed, rather than woven, onto other textiles, including cotton squares which were the precursors of the modern bandana. Being able to purchase printed paisley rather than woven paisley brought the price of the costly pattern down and added to its popularity. The key places of manufacture for printed paisley were Britain and the Alsace region of France.[13]

Gallery Edit

Click on images to see them full size

1860 Anonyme Un vétéran et sa femme Ambrotype.jpg
Veteran and his wife, who is wearing a paisley shawl 
Mango border modern.jpg
A modern chiffon sari; on its border is the traditional "mango" pattern; "carrey" in Urdu, for mango seed, or "ambi", derived from "Amb"-"mango" in Punjabi 
Paisley Guitarra2.jpg
Paisley Red Fender Telecaster guitar, originally released during 1968–1969)  
Neon Paisley.jpg
Paisley with a psychadelic color scheme. Modern Azo dyes used in most textiles are brighter than previous ones, and were first invented in the late 19th C, with new dyes being invented up to the present day 
Cashmere-Silk-Viscose paisley shawl with fringe.jpg
Detail of shawl in woven paisley pattern, 40% cashmere-30% silk-30% Viscose, with tasselled fringe, early 21st C 
Red and blue bandannas.jpg
Simple, cheap, ubiquitous. Cotton bandanas with the paisley pattern 
Paisley muster natural type dye colors.jpg
A good example of what was available to fabric dyers with natural dyes before the mid-19th C 
Paisley muster light.jpg
Buta ("bouter" [bu:tə], puta) looks similar to an almond or bud. It is a prevalent decorative element of Azerbaijani Ornamental Art  
Paisley HawesCurtis.JPG
The basic paisley shape is not shown in these fabrics; however, the style of ornamentation and color palette is a direct descendant  
Mango border.jpg
Traditional "mango" shapes (paisley) in a border on a cotton sari, folded over to view both sides of the cloth  

Trivia Edit

At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Azerbaijan's team sported colorful paisley trousers.[14] A Russian publication noted that "Azerbaijan has no chance of winning at the Winter Olympics; however, the country had already left its mark on the games".[15][16]

Other floral designs were and continue to be popular in hippy culture; John Lennon (WP) had a Rolls Royce painted with floral designs in 1967.[17]


  1. The Persian Pickle Club, Sandra Dallas. St. Martin's Press, (1995). ISBN 0-312-13586-6
  2. Quilting and Patchwork, Good Housekeeping (1983). ISBN 0-85223-276-4
  3. Oxford English Dictionary
  5. Hinduism Online Lexicon: M
  6. 6.0 6.1 Indian Hand Woven Jacquard Jamavar Shawls Zanzibar Trading
  7. Sophie Campbell. "Paisley: a designer heritage.", 12 January 2007.
  8. Ковроткачество Template:Ru icon
  9. Persian Pickles or Paisley? Accessed February 3, 2008.
  10. The Prohibition Years, 1686-1759, Le Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes (The Museum of Printed Textiles). Accessed in English February 3, 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Beyond the Fringe: Shawls of Paisley Design by Meg Andrews. Heavily illustrated history of paisley fashions. Accessed February 3, 2008.
  12. Paisley Museum and Art Gallery
  13. Printed "Paisley" in the 19th Century, Le Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes (The Museum of Printed Textiles). Accessed in English February 3, 2008.
  14. Vancouver 2010: The Olympics of the Silly Pants
  15. «Азербайджан выиграл войну штанов» Template:Ru icon
  16. «Психоделические» штаны азербайджанских спортсменов в Ванкувере Template:Ru icon
  17. John Lennon's Rolls Royce Accessed November 2, 2009

Further readingEdit