Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yet another interesting old Paisley Shawl

There is a 'mystery' about this very large paisley shawl which I'm currently listing in my eBay store. I'm sure somebody out there may be able to solve it for me. There is a small black centre panel - but it is really only a 'half' panel as you can see from the photograph. And when you look closely, you can see that the shawl consists of two large and definitely matching pieces, which have been joined together. Even the pattern on the epaulette ends matches - but they have been woven together, and not stitched! I've never come across one like this before. The story with these paisleys is that the early shawls had very large centres. In fact the earlier shawls were much more delicate affairs altogether, longish but much narrower, with highly decorated ends, designed for wearing over those lovely 'Jane Austen' fashions.
There were square shawls too, and you can see one here, but with the advent of the crinoline, a certain size became necessary if they were to be worn over those huge skirts as warm winter wraps. Even so the early shawls followed the theme of having a large centre panel with a beautiful woven border, the 'boteh' or wonderful fern patterns often intruding into that centre. I sold one like that earlier this year, and very beautiful it was too.
But as the century progressed the centres got smaller and smaller until with the later nineteenth century shawls there was no centre panel at all. When I hung this up to examine it more closely, I wondered at first if it had been stitched together, but the two pieces have definitely been woven together. I love these textile mysteries and - being a writer - I got to imagining that perhaps this had been a shawl with a full centre panel which sustained some damage early in its life. And perhaps - this being discovered very close to the area where the shawl might have been made in the first place, ie the West of Scotland - it was taken back to a Paisley weaver who simply cut out the small bit of damage and did a brilliant weaving restoration job on the two halves. This was not a throw away society, and a shawl would have been a precious item, so make do and mend was the only option!