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

Once again we see a pattern that is something of a mystery. What is the design supposed to represent? A curved leaf? A flame? A bent cypress? Boteh traces its historical roots back to the ancient Near East. Its earliest examples were found on silk scraps discovered along the Nile in Upper Egypt. The pattern is as widespread in modern-day Afghanistan as it is in the former kingdom of Kashmir in north India. Yet most people nowadays know it as paisley, the name of a Scottish town. How can that be?