Paisley or Paisley pattern is a term in English for a design using the boteh or buta, a droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Persian origin. Such designs became very popular in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries, following imports of post-Mughal versions of the design from India, especially in the form of Kashmir shawls, and were then imitated locally. The pattern is sometimes called “Persian pickles” by American traditionalists, especially quilt-makers, or “Welsh pears” in Welsh textiles as far back as 1888.
Resembling a twisted teardrop, the kidney-shaped paisley is of Iranian origin, but its western name derives from the town of Paisley, in West Scotland, a centre for textiles where paisley designs were produced.
In Iran the design, known as Boteh Jegheh, has been used since the Sassanid Dynasty (AD 224 to AD 651).
Some design scholars believe it is the convergence of a stylized floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity. (another name for the motif in Persian is sarv-e khamīdeh سرو خمیده, which literally means “curved cypress”) A floral motif called Buteh, which originated in the Sassanid Dynasty and later in the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (from 1501 to 1736), was a major textile pattern in Iran during the Qajar Dynasty and Pahlavi Dynasty. In these periods, the pattern was used to decorate royal regalia, crowns, and court garments, as well as textiles used by the general population. According to Azerbaijani historians, the design comes from ancient times of Zoroastrianism and is an expression of the essence of that religion. It subsequently became a decorative element widely used in Azerbaijani culture and architecture.
The pattern is still popular in Iran and South and Central Asian countries. It is woven using gold or silver threads on silk or other high quality textiles for gifts, for weddings and special occasions. In Iran and Uzbekistan its use goes beyond clothing – paintings, jewelry, frescoes, curtains, tablecloths, quilts, carpets, garden landscaping, and pottery also sport the buta design. In Uzbekistan the most frequently found item featuring the design is the traditional doppi headdress.
In Tamil Nadu the manga maalai (mango necklace) with matching earrings is a traditional feature of bharathanatyam dance.
It is a prominent design in Kanchipuram saris. It has sometimes been associated with Hinduism.