Long scarf

Scarf, Kashmir, India, 1820-40, Basic fabric: twill, goat wool, Pattern fabric: Weaving composed of several parts, goat wool.
Courtesy of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

What might that be? A curved leaf or a flame? Or a cypress bending in the wind? The shape is old, dating back to ancient Near Eastern times. It is found on silk remains excavated along the Nile. Even today, the boteh pattern is ubiquitous in Afghanistan or the (former) north Indian kingdom of Kashmir. In Europe, it is known by the name of a small Scottish town: Paisley.
In the 18th century, the British gained control over the Indian subcontinent. Magnificent shawls and scarves found their way to London. Such precious items were originally reserved for the Indian ruler’s dynasty. Now, however, half of Europe was in a frenzy for them, and as demand continued to grow, weavers from Paisley in Scotland began to copy Indian shawls and scarves. They were helped by the mechanical loom, but the Scottish product never reached the magic of the original.