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Where did Paisley Print Come from?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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Paisley print is an easily recognized pattern that resembles a crooked tear drop or half of a yin-yang. A very popular print on all sorts of clothing and fashion accessories during the 1960s, paisley print is commonly found today on men’s ties and handkerchiefs. It has also recently resurfaced on women’s skirts and handbags. Though the design became popular when it appeared in the shops of London's Carnaby Street during the mod fashion frenzy, its origin can be traced back to India.

Though the recognizable paisley print pattern was originally crafted by Indian artisans, it was brought to Scotland in the early 19th century, where it received its name. The print was named after the Scottish town of Paisley, where printed cotton and wool fabrics were heavily manufactured. Paisley print saw its first acclaimed popularity in the 1960s. Clothes with this design were extremely fashionable, and in 1967, John Lennon had his Rolls Royce painted with the design. The trendy shops of Carnaby Street boasted skirts, tops, and men's shirts in paisley print.

Today, this design is very common on silk neckties for men, and some fashion designers regularly incorporate it into their leather handbags. Handkerchiefs have long featured a paisley pattern, most frequently seen in red or blue. In Los Angeles, bandannas with this print can signify gang affiliation, and in the Midwest, they are still worn by farmers and ranchers alike to wipe away the sweat of a hard day’s work.

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More recently, paisley print experienced a revival of sorts in a more modern version a skirt. A trendy look for the early 2000s, a paisley print skirt or top paired with a solid color was popular as both office wear and casual evening wear. Paisley print had been in existence for hundreds of years before it surfaced as a recognizable fashion print, and it is likely that it will continue to be seen in textiles and even decorative home designs for many years to come.

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anon942049
Post 9

Interesting. From my understanding, paisley originated in Persia and then went to India. Trade then brought paisley to Europe and then North America. Does anyone know for sure if this pattern originated from India before Persia? Because I've also read that it originated from both, which I believe to be unlikely. How could the place of origin be in two places simultaneously?

anon255293
Post 8

Funny that one of europe's worst towns for gangs and drugs (and let's not forget the notorious drugs war of the 90s) produced a pattern that is now largely associated with gangs.

Penzance356
Post 7

I'm a curious kind of person so when I noticed that lots of paisley print shirts for men were featured in a so called 'cowboy style' I had to do some digging on the topic.

This article has been helpful, but reading about the pattern having origins in India seemed a little strange. How could this have jumped from the mystic East to the wild West?

I think I've figured it out though - the connection is bandanas. This multi purpose item was invaluable to a working cowboy, and it appears that the pattern became associated with other clothes they may wear.

I think these days it is more of a fashion item for men, so I'm not sure if many actual working ranch hands are sporting pink or brown paisley prints!

JaneAir
Post 6

@strawCake - I can understand why you would feel nervous. But I believe only the paisley print bandanas in certain colors are associated with gangs. I'm sure if you wore other paisley print fabrics in the city you would be alright.

strawCake
Post 5

Paisley print's association with gangs is quite unfortunate. I used to have a red paisley print dress I loved to wear but when I moved into a city I got too nervous to wear it. I didn't want anyone to think I was in a gang or something!

ShellM89
Post 4

@monica – That is so interesting. I love paisley and mango, both!

The paisley design has always been a favorite of mine as long as I can remember. It is so versatile. It is found on clothing from paisley print ties to paisley print dresses.

In my home I have paisley print curtains and table linens. But far and away my current favorite is using paisley print paper in my scrapbook projects.

anon184425
Post 3

Thank you Monica. I always thought there was something regal about the paisley print .

monica
Post 1

Paisley came from India where this motif has been used for centuries and is popular till date. Most motifs in India have been inspired by nature, this one is referred to as 'Ambi' ie mango in north India. Mango is also called the king of fruits and this motif was quite popular among the royalty fashion circles

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