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The glorious history of paisley prints

Paisley prints, also known as the boteh or buta motif, has a long and intriguing past that transits several centuries. The term “paisley” was derived from the town of Paisley in Scotland, where shawls with these patterns were manufactured in the 19th century.

Its origins can be traced back to ancient Persia, but it found immense popularity and significance in India.The paisley pattern is characterized by a teardrop-shaped design with intricate curving motifs, often resembling a floral spray or a twisted leaf.

History of Paisley prints

The Mughal Empire, from the 16th to the 19th century, played a significant role in popularizing paisley prints. The Mughal emperor,Akbar, had a keen interest in arts and textiles. They patronized trained artisans and prompted the production of exquisite textiles with intricate designs.

The paisley pattern became a prominent motif in Indian textiles during the Mughal era, particularly in shawls. These shawls, known as “Paisley shawls” or “Kashmir shawls,” were hand-woven and embroidered with elaborate paisley designs. They were highly prized and sought after by both Indian nobility and European elites.

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In northern India, northern Kashmir became prominent for its production of paisley shawls. Skilled craftsmen in Kashmir hand-wove the shawls using fine wool or pashmina, and then detailed paisley designs were embroidered onto them. These shawls were considered luxurious and were exported to various parts of the world, including Europe.

During the colonial period, paisley prints gained even more popularity in India. British officers and officials stationed in India developed a taste for Indian textiles and adopted the paisley pattern into their own clothing and accessories. The motif became a chic fad among the British elite and was intertwined into their fashion styles.

Paisley prints became deeply ingrained in Indian textile traditions and spread to various parts of the country over time. Different regions in India developed their own unique interpretations of the paisley motif, incorporating it into sarees, dupattas (scarves), turbans, and other clothing items.

Today, paisley prints continue to be an integral part of Indian textile and fashion industries. They are used in a wide range of products, including clothing, home furnishings, and accessories. The traditional craftsmanship associated with paisley designs is still practiced by skilled artisans in India, keeping the rich heritage alive.

The Mughal patronage, the eminence of Kashmiri craftsmanship, and the subsequent global popularity have all pitched in to the enduring inheritance of paisley prints in India.

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