Shawls tended to be very large in the 1850s, mainly because they were worn over wide crinoline skirts (skirts supported by a cage-like structure). Shawls like this one, produced in large quantities on a jacquard loom, were generally cheaper than the Indian shawls, which were hand-woven using a more time-consuming technique. By the 1850s the kashmir shawl industry in India was largely controlled by European agents who brought their own pattern books for the local shawl weavers to copy.
Design & Designing
Paisley in Scotland was one of the first shawl manufacturing centres in Britain to attempt exact reproductions of kashmir patterns in the early 19th century. By the 1850s the industry in Paisley was looking to France as well as India for inspiration. This was largely due to the introduction of the jacquard loom from France, which was in general use in Paisley by 1845. The use of this type of loom meant that more elaborate designs could be produced at a faster rate.
Ownership & Use
This is a two-colour shawl, which could be worn with either a white or red corner folded over and showing at the back. This gave the impression that the wearer owned two different shawls. Sometimes shawls were four-coloured, with each corner decorated with a different pattern in the middle.