Jun 19, 2010

The Indian boteh or Scottish paisley

The boteh, called palmette in France and 'paisley' in the English world, has been one of the most durable motifs in textile design. The leaf-shaped motif from the Middle East and India gained popularity in Europe with the import of shawls, textiles and other Oriental products in the 17th century. Luxurious Kashmir shawls, woven of the highest quality fibers, were worn by the Empress Josephine and most upper class women. The demand was so strong that the importers could not keep up.
By the early 19th century, Scottish weavers in the town of Paisley began copying the Indian shawls and producing them in fine local woolens. The town produced so many shawls that the boteh or palmette motif came to be called 'paisley.'  The French textile companies produced variations of the pattern on printed cotton shawls that resembled the most expensive woven examples. They also created endless variations of the paisley as the theme for home furnishing fabrics.
Below is an 1870 French fashion plate showing a day dress with a paisley-patterned hemline.

Next is the large-scale pattern on a French printed cotton shawl, early 19th century:

The next group of paisley prints all happen to be 19th century quilts, but the paisley pattern was used in draperies, bedding and clothing and is still popular today.

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