Global textiles day four: France

The paisley motif, thought to be a teardrop, mango, flower or cypress pinecone, is at once Indian, Iranian, Scottish and French. It originated in India and Persia, was adopted by the Scots (Paisley is a town in Scotland) and popularised by the French.

After a strong European market for paisley textiles was created by the East India Company in the early 1600s, producers in Marseilles began mass-producing copies of the design in 1640, creating a such a demand and strain on other European producers that the French government banned its production (somewhat unsuccessfully) from 1686-1759.

It hits its stride in the 1800s, when it was embraced by women in the form of shawls. Since then, it has become ubiquitous with a French ‘provencal’ style. There’s something about a paisley tablecloth that makes me want to drink fresh lemonade and open a good book in the garden. HF.

Images above of Les Olivades‘ range of modern paisley designs. And below a Dochalla (shawl), 18th century, Kashmir, cotton and silk twill weave from The Textile Museum.

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