Friday, 24 January 2014

Paisley

Paisley is the generic term used worldwide to describe this pattern. Although the design was made popular by the town of Paisley during the 19th century it actually originated many centuries earlier in Asia, principally Persia now Iran, and India. The East India Company first began importing fabrics bearing the design during the 17th century to Britain.
This paisley throw is mine
It also became very popular in France and eventually the design was replicated by their own textile printers; in France the paisley design led on to the production of patterns such as toile de jouy.
During the 19th century soldiers returning from the colonies brought home cashmere woollen shawls which became a very popular accessory, but to buy these shawls in Britain was incredibly expensive.  The Paisley weavers decided to turn their hands to producing similar patterns to those arriving from India, and hence the name Paisley became synonymous with the design.
Paisley is a town in Renfrewshire just west of Glasgow in Scotland. Every cottage along some streets had a jacquard loom operated by a family. They were very successful and were able to undercut the Indian imports by charging 90% less for their paisley shawls. Eventually mills were built to accommodate the Jacquard hand-looms which attracted many workers and their families to moved to Paisley. 
Regency Empire stoles and shawls in France 1888
Muslim shawl makers in Kashmir 1867
The Reluctant Bride by Auguste Toulmouche 1866
This French painting shows the popularity of the Paisley style shawl in France.
Portrait of Fanny Holman-Hunt by her husband William - this painting is also dated 1866 and shows how the shawl was popular in both countries.
The awakening conscience - William Holman-Hunt
Paisley seems to have a perennial appeal and is just as popular today. It appears on ties, scarves, throws, dresses, blouses, curtain fabric, and even bedlinen.  

42 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, Unlike some other exotic designs, paisleys never seem dated. It is also interesting to note that this is the only ornate design that men can conservatively wear--in neckties, at least.

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    1. Hello Jim - you are right I had not thought about that. I like ties in a paisley design especially when they have a red or yellow background - gives them a touch of flamboyance. I had forgotten, but H has a summer dressing gown in a paisley fabric.

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  2. Dear Rosemary, Your posts are always just right. Lovely photographs and just enough information to make them interesting.
    Is this also the time in England when weavers grew Primula Auricula for competition?

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    1. Dear Gina - it is often thought that the Primula Auricula was introduced to England by the Huguenot silk weavers when they fled France in the 16th century. This is earlier than the time that the weavers in Paisley were setting up their looms. However, there is a question mark over whether or not this is true as Auriculas like tulips were highly prized and very expensive.
      As an aside, I do have a bit of Huguenot in me. My maternal grandmother's surname was Jacques.

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  3. I have a pale blue paisley dressing gown and always feel, well.....dressed, when I put it on! A paisley scarf adds elegance to a plain coat, and a paisley shawl over the back of the sofa says 'comfort'.

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    1. It is interesting that the paisley design has withstood the test of time for several hundred years.

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  4. Your Paisley throw is gorgeous Rosemary!

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    1. It came from Laura Ashley in one of their sales Jessica.

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  5. Hi Rosemary, thanks for the interesting background info about the Paisley design! Your post reminded me of a self sown paisley pant that I wore when I was young. It was made out of a very thin flowing fabric and printed in a green, blue, black color scheme and looked very elegant. I loved it and it lasted forever. But back to you post: I admire the print of the "Regency Empire stoles and shawls in France 1888", gives you quite some ideas of how to wear a shawl even for today :-). The Portrait of Fanny Holman-Hunt is so very beautiful, I am really toughed by it! Wishing you a nice evening,
    Christina

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    1. Hello Chistina - that print certainly does give numerous ways of using stoles and shawls. Holman-Hunt's portrait is very endearing, I like to think that it reveals his love for her.

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  6. How fabulous these carpets and paintings are. Unbelievable.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Pleased that you enjoyed seeing them Filip.

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  7. Interesting post, Rosemary. I love paisleys!! Coincidentally, they were featured on my blog just yesterday. ;)

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    1. What is a coincidence - is it true that 'great minds' think alike?

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  8. I hadn't thought of the paisley design coming from Asia - how fascinating that a Scottish town should decide to create their own style like this from some imported fabric (and then the design becomes an international favourite). Your paisley throw is lovely.

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    1. There is a wonderful museum in Paisley showing many of the wonderful shawls that were produced there and also the history behind it all.

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  9. Two years ago my daugther was in India, and she bring home a great fabric with paisley.
    It is verry beautiful...now it is hanging on the wal in her student room.
    Have a nice Weekend.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. I should imagine that the fabric your daughter brought home from India really brightens up her student room, and reminds her of her trip there too.

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  10. As always an interesting post by so many informations .I like the photos that you found about this and I loved your own. Τhe colors are bright ,warm and remind me of the autumn colors of the forest that have near your home . I will never forget these colors that you saw us in that post !!!! The design also is lovely !
    Have a nice weekend .

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    1. The colours in my paisley throw do have similar autumnal shades to our local forest. I do like the way you have linked the two together Olympia.

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  11. Always a pleasure to visit your blog and learn something new :-)) The paintings are really stunning and all telling a story. Wish you a nice weekend.

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    1. I particularly love the Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt's work. Sadly Fanny in the painting died during childbirth in Italy, and Holman Hunt sculpted a tomb for her at Fiesole, which was brought back to England.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    My favorite tie is a paisley that's so dark (green) that at first glance it appears to be a solid color. I must have three dozen ties in my closet, but I almost always reach for that one.

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    1. Dear Mark - if ever I buy H a tie I invariably opt for one with a paisley design.

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  13. Fanny Holman Hunt's portrait is hauntingly beautiful. I love everything about it.
    I loved reading about the history of the paisley pattern. Thank you Rosemary and have a great weekend

    Helenxx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Helen - I have just mentioned to Jane, in comments, that sadly beautiful Fanny died in childbirth.

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  14. I love paisley designs too but did not know of their origin, Rosemary. This is so interesting, especially the Regency era paintings - I didn't know why that oriental 'look' crept into the fashions. Your Paisley throw is beautiful, as is Mrs Holman-Hunts! Thank you for this fascinating and informative post!

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    1. It is interesting the way this particular design seems to have been around and loved for many hundreds of years. So far, nobody has said it is a pattern that they do not like.
      Glad you enjoyed the post Patricia.

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  15. I was given a large square scarf with a Paisley design by my thoughtful DiL this Christmas, which I love as it's in my favourite colours I think the paisley pattern must be fashionable again.

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    1. Lucky you Linda, enjoy wearing it. I do believe that the design is timeless.

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  16. I love paisley and I really don't know why, maybe the swirls or the movement in the fabrics. I have several Moda fabrics that are paisley and I must admit that I hate to cut into them as I might ruin such lovely patterns.

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    1. It is difficult to put your finger on what it is about the paisley design, but it does seem to have a universal and lasting appeal.

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  17. Lovely illustrative paintings Rosemary and a very interesting story. I assumed that the design originated in the Scottish town.

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    1. Yes, I think that is probably a very common assumption.

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  18. In Renfrewshire, Paisley being the county town, we have a paisley motif as the logo. Your shawl is beautiful. (Paisley isn't in Ayrshire and isn't near the coast - it's only about 7 miles west of Glasgow). The museum in Paisley has a permanent exhibition area with many examples of paisley patterned shawls, some of them are gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks very much I have corrected it now. My mind must have gone AWOL for the moment.
      I know that the museum is very good - I remember seeing it on the TV - someday I must try and visit it.

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  19. Such beautiful shawls! I love those patterns in those shawls. Lovely paintings as well. Happy weekend, Rosemary!

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    1. Thank you Satu - the pattern does seem to have an appeal for most people.

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  20. Hello I'm back and I'm being pedantic again! How about west rather than south and I'd probably classify it as a large town, though its glory days are certainly past and it's sadly now in decline. It could be a lovely place if there was money to be invested as there are some great characterful old streets and buildings, including the abbey. It suffers due to its proximity to Glasgow and the nearby Braehead shopping centre, and well, it's just not generally a prosperous area compared to other parts of the UK, though it does have its posh bits.

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    1. All changed thanks - you will probably find it hard to believe that I actually lived in Glasgow for 5 years!!!

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― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh