the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Girls wearing shawls

I had such fun searching for images of women wearing paisley shawls (you can see the post here), that I decided to continue looking for paintings, but this time with girls wearing shawls.

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Girl in a Red Shawl by Alexi Harlamott (1840-1925)

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Aprilliebe by Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)

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Girl in a yellow shawl by Eugene de Blaas (1931)

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Girl with a green shawl by Joseph deCamp (1900)

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Lise in a white shawl by Renoir (1841-1919)

Do any of these images activate stories for you?  You can find out how paisley shawls and the development of paisley pattern have influenced the writing of Paisley Shirt by clicking here.

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Woven shawls in novels by Elizabeth Gaskell

Shawls designed in a pattern commonly known in Britain as paisley were by the 1850s an indispensable item of Victorian women’s wear. They were a marker of respectability as shown by the character of Esther in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, who dispenses with her prostitute’s attire to find a shawl at a pawnbrokers which is considered suitable attire. Poor women wore paisley shawls made from wool or cotton while hand woven shawls from Kashmir made from ‘several grades of hair from two or more species of Asian goat’ (Suzanne Daly, 246) were the preference of the prosperous middle classes.

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In another novel by Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, shawls and scarves from India are inherited or handed down. Mrs Shaw gives her collection to her daughter Edith but due to her slight stature, Edith prefers to use them as picnic blankets. It is on Margaret that a shawl suits “as an empress wears her drapery”. Preference for handcrafted goods leaves Margaret at odds with Mr Thornton but by the end of the novel Margaret inherits land and marries him.

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As paisley shawls are included in great classic work, why not include paisley print in contemporary fiction? Read my story ‘Paisley Shirt’ included in the collection of the same name to find out about its influence in my writing. Click here for more information on Amazon or if delivery times are off putting, try the Book Depository.

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About Paisley Print

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According to the Textile Glossary, paisley pattern “is a droplet-shaped vegetal motif, similar to half of the T’ai Chi symbol, the Indian bodhi tree leaf, or the mango tree. The design originated in India and spread to Scotland when British soldiers brought home cashmere shawls.”

The East India Company began importing shawls from Kashmir and Persia and due to their popularity, production of paisley shawls began in the small town of Paisley in Scotland. By the 1850s six thousand weavers were employed to produce paisley shawls made from wool. Although the pattern produced by these weavers became known as paisley due to the link with the town, this pattern is known as palme in French and bota in Netherlands.

Over the years, paisley patterns continued to be worn, but it was not until the late 1960s that the print was once again fashionable. More recently in 2012 the print also appeared in fashion shows.

Paisley Shirt is the title of a story in my new collection of short fiction which bears the same name. Can I encourage you to purchase a copy here? The paperback edition is available from 7 March 2018.

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