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A Passion for Paisley


Many people are familiar with paisley pattern and its long standing history with the namesake Scottish town… however, it’s often forgotten that Edinburgh’s very own Kashmir shawl industry can be dated as far back as 1767, a considerable 40 years before Paisley. How’s that for a #FlashBackFriday?

A vision of colour, history and artisanship await at Hawick Museum’s Scott Gallery, where the forgotten heritage of the Edinburgh Kashmir shawl industry is encapsulated with a display of twenty beautiful shawls from Heriot-Watt University’s Textile Collection.

Through research it’s become apparent that Edinburgh weavers were in fact the first in Britain to produce replicas of shawls brought home by merchants and soldiers from India in the 16th century. Heriot Watt University’s Paisley collection features over 100 shawls dating from the 1790s to 1860s, many of which are attributed to the Edinburgh industry and have not been on display since 1962. 

As well as a multitude of intricately patterned shawls, the exhibition has been enhanced even further - bolstered with the efforts of Heriot Watt University’s Fashion Technology students, who have created costume inspired by historical silhouettes.

Alongside the shawls, a number of garments taken from Hawick Museum’s collection will be on display which illustrates the lasting legacy of the paisley pattern. In addition, a small selection of original hand-painted designs for Edinburgh shawls are on loan from Edinburgh University Archive.

Everyone involved is very excited, especially as this is the first time since the 1960s that these shawls have been on public display.

A fully interactive events programme, including short talks at Hawick Museum and a study day held at the Scottish Borders Campus in Galashiels on November 11 and booking details will be released shortly.

The exhibition is open from October 9 – December 23, Monday to Friday 12.00pm-3.00pm and Sunday 1.00pm-3.00pm and admission is free. For further details, please ring 01450 364 767 or e-mail hawickmuseum@liveborders1.org.uk

We’re looking forward to seeing you there soon!


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