history of tassels



I’ve never really met a tassel I didn’t love, you? Tassels have been used for centuries as a status symbol, a luxurious accessory to show off wealth and grand style. Today I’m sharing a short history of tassels and how to decorate with tassels.



Archeologists have found tassels in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs in Egypt and Mesopotamia. There, thousands of years ago, tassels were thought to ward off evil spirits.  In Europe, tassels showed status for the nobility, high church officials and the military.



antique tassel print



The art of tassels and decorative passementerie, which translates as “to turn by hand”, was begun in the ateliers of the Passementerie Guilds in 16th century France.  It took seven full years of being an apprentice to a become a “Passementerie” craftsman.  The training was long and hard, and often quite tedious, before an apprentice was allowed to weave and tie elaborate and costly trim and tassels for the wealthy nobility of the era.


Louis XV of France was a great fan of Tassels {Passementerie}, using them everywhere for decoration and style. Tassels signified status during his reign, and they were not just for adding flair and style to clothing, tassels were also used as decorations at palaces and chateaus.  In the Petit Appartement de la Reine the private rooms of the French queens Maria Theresa of Spain, Marie Leszczyska, and later Marie-Antoinette, tassels were used everywhere.  The photo below shows an elaborate cornice hung from the ceiling in the bathroom.



tassels in French Versailles



Artisans elevated working with braids and trim, silk threads and beads to an art form.  The tassel was an apprentice’s final exam, of sorts, and his master’s calling card to obtain commissions to create work for royalty, the clergy and the military. One single tassel made with silk wool or linen, with metallic buillon threads could take a hundred hours to make, and could cost the equivalent of thousands of today’s dollars to commission.




Tassels from this period adorned pillows, draperies, carriages and thrones, interiors were literally sprinkled with tassels of all sizes and shapes. Clothing often had a variety {and a dazzling amount!} of tassels, and special tassels marked rank in both religious clothing and military uniforms.







After the French Revolution, the tassel trade was largely lost, with few exceptional passementerie ateliers still in existence today.  But in Belloy-en-France, there is still an “old-school style” fabulous passementerie manufacturer.



Les Passementeries de Ille de France is one of the last workshops still operating in France. It was started by Georges Doudoux in 1926, and it’s flourished ever since. If you are ever in France, their showroom is in Paris, and worth a visit.






Les Passementeries de l’île de France.

The showroom is on

11 rue Trousseau
75011 PARIS








 You can use tassels in so many ways!








Here at home, I hang them from our armoires, of course.  But there are so many other ways to use a tassel in your decor!



  • Drape tassels as part of a stylized grouping of antiques on a commode in the living room.
  • Tie them to a silver tea pot or an antique silver biscuit jar.
  • Hang one on a tall lamp from the “turn on and off” knob.
  • Use a double curtain tie back as a place marker in an antique book on a stand.
  • Display antique French keys on a tassel on my French desk in the office.
  • Tie them to beautiful scissors.






silk French tassels black pink






I love tassels, and by the way each collection of our vintage tassels made exclusively for us at FrenchGardenHouse flies off the shelves, so do you.




I’m excited to share our latest collection of tassels, each embellished in a little studio with antique buttons, metallic laces, vintage and antique ribbons and jewelry pieces, too.  While they are probably not worthy of kings and queens, they are wonderful decorative accents!


Many of them have antique French skeleton keys attached, with a worn gilt finish. They are perfect to display with grand style on a stack of antique books, on an antique French letter on your desk, or on your coffee table.   {you can make up a story about where the key was used, and what secret doors it unlocked!}
















how to decorate with tassels









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