Asian Influence In Victorian Design

It is evident from the vast collection of Indian designs that were collated in these sample books of the 19th century that textile manufacturers of the West have borrowed design ideas from the East.

An ancient eastern design – The Paisley Pattern


Motif from Kashmir Shawl: Pheerozee (Turquoise Color), No. 23, By Order of Mahummud Azeem Khan, ca. 1822 – 1823

The origins of the Paisley pattern are in central Asia. Paisley fabric is usually patterned with distinctive, ornate, teardrop or feather-shaped figures. It is believed to be based on an Indian pine cone design”. Textile experts have called it a “drooping bud” or the “Kashmir cone”. It is also often associated with mangoes, pears, date palms, the “tree of life” and various symbols drawn from nature.

Since about the 17th century patterned shawls with paisley motifs were traditionally woven in Kashmir in the Himalayas. It is believed that it originated in Persia and known as boteh or buta.

Members of the British Army served in India in the second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849) and were based in the Punjab brought home Kashmiri (cashmere) shawls with boteh/paisley patterns. This pattern found its way into the shawls made by the European manufacturers and appeared on dresses and silk cravats. The town of Paisley in Scotland later became a major shawl production centre.