As a history major, I can get kind of wonky about the origin of things. I’ve noticed a lot of paisley patterns on women’s clothing lately, so I thought I’d do a bit of research.

Although the paisley pattern can trace its roots back to ancient Persia, where it decorated royal regalia, crowns and court garments, the name is derived from the town of Paisley in central Scotland.


Paisley was introduced to Europe through imports from the East India Company and the pattern was widely produced throughout France, Eastern Europe and England. In the early 1800s, weavers from the town of Paisley became the foremost producers of cashmere shawls bearing the pattern and achieved renown for their ability to produce the print in many different colors.

The characteristic paisley form resembles a kidney, or teardrop, and is thought to have originated as a representative of either a vegetable or a palm.

Paisley appears in textiles throughout the world on men’s traditional ties


on modern-day quilts from upscale stores like Anthropologie


and in the ubiquitous tapestries  that adorn many college dorm rooms (including mine, back in the day)


Paisley was particularly popular during the ’60s when the Beatles brought it back from their pilgrimage to India and it came to be associated with spirituality.

I think paisley has endured over the centuries because of its tremendous versatility and universal appeal  After all, it fits in quite well at both an old world British hunt club as well as a Dead show. Like me.


Images: Ties are from Cavenagh Ties London  and quilt is from Anthropologie



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2 responses to “Paisley

  1. Caroline

    I have my grandmother’s early 20th century paisley shawl…which I sometimes use as a table covering over a linen cloth… is stunning.

  2. Ann

    What a wonderful keepsake! Would love to see a photo.

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