Paisley is one of our most popular patterns at Country Brook Design. The word "paisley" brings to mind the Beatles, long skirts from the Summer of Love, and a popular country singer named Brad. It most recently gained prominence during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when the Azerbaijan team became known for their paisley pants.
The instantly recognizable pattern is known by many names, including "Persian pickles," a name used mostly by quilters. My Grandmother loved the Persian pickles for her quilts, a pattern she enjoyed for its resemblance to raindrops. The Scottish city of Paisley is where we derived its western name, but the distinctive kidney shape, a bit like an angular teardrop, originated in Iran about eighteen hundred years ago. It’s still quite popular in Iran and South Asia, where it’s often woven with gold and used for silk, wedding cloths, and other fancy occasions meriting an expensive, high-quality product.
The yin yang symbol of the Taoist religion is the most well-known and widespread usage of paisley. Its two paisley teardrops with a dot in the base of each one is a well-known symbol of the complimentary forces that make up all aspects of existence. The dot of each paisley teardrop held within the other represents the balance of giving and taking. No good without a little bad; no bad without a little good.
Paisley first became prominent in America during 1967, the Summer of Love, when the pattern became associated with the American psychedelic scene. After the Beatles made their pilgrimage to India a year later, they brought back an interest in Asian cultures and spirituality with which paisley also became associated.
In 2013, paisley is enjoying a renaissance into upscale fashion. The Paisley Giftshop of Williamsburg, Virginia has created a web-store to open their brick and mortar offerings to the world, and there is a line of collective angels with gentle paisley patterns artistically rendered into their wings. In addition, paisley gift wrap and baby books are more popular than ever.
An old-fashioned quilt suitable to hand down to grandchildren for generations to come, or just a soft, pleasing pattern to adorn a baby or bridal gift – paisley is an old beauty, made reborn by its many adaptations and new, interesting uses.