From Buteh To Paisley

Printed synthetic cloth sample with paisley motifs, European, 1950's. Printed synthetic cloth sample with paisley motifs, European, 1950's. TRC 2019.2640

2. But what is paisley?

The paisley motif is a curved, tear-shaped design, which has become a classic form used in many countries throughout the world. It has been described, for example, as a ‘particular form of floral design in which blossoms are contained within a cone shape’.

The origins of the motif are generally thought to lie in Iran, where it is known as the buteh (Farsi: flower bud, sprig, bunch of leaves), from where it would have been introduced in India and became particularly associated with Kashmir shawls.

The same motif, different names

The motif goes by many names, including buteh (with variations such as buta), mangga (Indonesia), or skoukyumoyo (‘pinecone’; Japan), but it is more widely known in the West by the name of paisley. This name derives from the Scottish town of Paisley (near Glasgow), where factory woven imitations of Kashmir shawls decorated with buteh were produced for much of the 19th century.

Iran: buteh

Afghanistan: Bota

India: In various Indian and related languages the word for this pattern refers to the word for the mango fruit:

  • Bengali: kalka
  • Hindi/Urdu: carrey, keril (‘flower’, ‘unripe mango’)
  • Marathi: koyari (‘mango seed’)
  • Punjabi: ambi (‘of the mango’)
  • Tamil: mankolam (‘mango’)
  • Telugu: mamidi pinde (‘young mango’)

2021.0062 2Detail of a late 20th century kimono from japan with paisley motifs (TRC 2021.0062).East and southeast Asia

  • Han Chinese: huǒtuǐwén (‘ham hock’)
  • Indonesia: buteh (with variations such as buta), mangga
  • Japan: skoukyumoyo (‘pinecone’), magatama, or simply paisley

Western languages

  • American quilters: ‘Persian pickle’
  • France: boteh, cachemire, palme
  • Italian: paisley, motivo cachemire
  • Netherlands: 'paisley,' or 'buteh'
  • Russian: огурцы (cucumber, or sometimes ‘Turkish cucumber’)
  • Spain: estampado Bulgaro
  • Welsh quilters: 'Welsh pear'


Image Gallery