Paisley Pattern – Things you should know about it

Since I was a kid, I always used to wonder the designs that my mom made on Diwali. Where did those designs came from? What’s their importance? What do they symbolize? All these questions always made me curious. Well, whatever story I was told when I was small about these designs, I definitely have outgrown them now.

Example of a Paisley Pattern
Paisley design

By Arulraja (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As the festive season approaches, I see all these patterns back again. The similar looking designs now available in print media sparked something in my mind. The art of a society is often the true reflection of people living inside it. By looking at present designs and fonts, you can easily understand a lot about past and present of a particular location.

When I started looking for the origin of this leaf like design, I found that it is called “Paisley design”, the origin has been attributed to Persia. This particular design is so extremely popular in India that we commonly see it in bed sheets, sarees and designs intended for religious festivals.

According to Wiki,

Some design scholars[who?] believe it is the convergence of a stylized floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity.[4] Paisley is the quintessential visual metaphor of Iran’s bifurcated and tormented identity – riven between Arabic Islam and pre-Islamic Persian creeds. It is a bent cedar, and the cedar is the tree Zarathustra planted in paradise. The heavenly tree was “bent” under the weight of the Arab invasion and Muslim conquest of Persia.

The design was probably brought to India by the Mughals. The context of this design is beyond my understanding. Since, the design was all about resistance and modesty, I couldn’t comprehend the usage with the current times. Anyways, it could just be the change in our perception that has provided such wide acceptance to this design within our daily lives.

Paisley was a symbol of luxury during 1600’s-1800’s with East India Company promoting it to the heights. Most of the weaving work of this design in 19th century came from Paisley, Scotland. Which is also the reason behind this pattern being called Paisley pattern.

Paisley weavers were often thought of as enlightened beings. And Paisley was attributed to psychedelic nature by The Beatles, who often wore t-shirts with Paisley Patterns.

Here’s one such psychedelic portrayal of Paisley
Paisley 2

That’s a very short writeup on Paisley, I shared what I found out of curiosity. Feel free to share if you have anything on Paisley!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *