Symbolism of Celtic Knot work
The interwoven designs featured in much of my current work
derive from the Celtic culture of early Britain. The Celts, who had
no written language, managed to express an enormous amount about how
they saw their world through their art and craftwork.
The Celts were Druids, nature worshipers, who were convinced that
all things in Nature are connected and interdependent; the plants,
the animals, the earth and its forces, and themselves. Their visual
expression of this belief often featured stylized animals
intertwined like vines, in complex, unbroken knots, without
beginning or end.
As Christianity spread throughout Britain, it absorbed much of
the Celtic culture and style. Because religious artwork featuring
animals was considered pagan by the early missionaries, Celtic
interweavings gradually became simplified into the exquisite
knotted-ribbon designs you see today, without animal heads or
This concept of profound interdependence, expressed by the
ancient Celtic interweavings, is perhaps even more relevant to those
who are seeking an appropriate symbol for marriage.
Celtic Background Information
Celtic traditional arts feature designs and images that
seem to be trying to tell us something. That feeling is correct.
Celtic art is full of messages.
Because many people have asked about the significance of these
Celtic patterns, I should tell you that their significance is not
about the dogs or birds represented, but about what these animals
and geometric shapes symbolized it the ancient Celts. The dogs, for
example, are stylized Irish Wolfhounds, which were symbols for
loyalty, faithfulness, unconditional love courage, and strength.
The Celts, who avoided written language, wrote no books, other than the Gospels
they transcribed. Nevertheless they managed to express an enormous
amount about how they saw their world, through their arts and
crafts. To a Celt of that time, their interweaves an other patterns
would have been recognizable and understandable, and many of them
probably served as illustrations, or visual reminders, of stories
regarding their history and culture, which they would have had to
memorize, as none of it was allowed to be written down, for fear
that their knowledge could fall into the hands of their enemies.
Apparently, their repertoire of animal and geometric designs
constitutes a vocabulary, while the way in which these elements are
arranged creates the grammar, in their stories told without written
An art form can be shared by many people across boundaries of
culture, even time itself; It remains intelligible to one who has
learned to read the form. From what remains today of Celtic culture,
and from indirect accounts in ancient Greek and Roman chronicles,
plus the efforts of researchers patiently trying to reassemble the
jigsaw puzzle of Celtic culture, with many pieces lost to history, a
picture has emerged, and there is general agreement on many
The Celts were Druidic nature worshippers, and they were
convinced that all things in Nature are connected and
interdependent; the plants, the animals, the earth and its forces,
and themselves. Their visual expression of this belief often
featured stylized animals intertwined like vines, in complex,
unbroken knots, without beginning or end.
In the Celtic world, the common denominator in all the variations
of interweaves they created is a concept of profound
interdependence, a joyous interdependence of everything and
everyone, which I am convinced is picked up today and appreciated by
people who are on the same wavelength. The concept of profound
interdependence, expressed by the ancient Celtic interweavings, is
perhaps even more relevant in today's world. Part of the reason that
Celtic art draws you in is that is springs from a view of life that
is the complete opposite of alienation. They felt intrigued, not
alienated, and though human lives come to an end, they saw death as
part of the process, and were enthusiastic, confident, and secure in
their belief that they would be reborn again, endlessly. Their feeling of being a part
of life, and belief in reincarnation was so strong, that their lack
of fear of death became legendary, as even Julius Caesar had to
Other things expressed in Celtic art are their love of life, love
of organic beauty, and a sensitivity to natural form. They avoided
sterile symmetry and repetition, and instead encouraged originality
and variation in their arts and crafts and in their lives as well.
Individuality was highly valued, their imaginations were in high
gear, and it is rare to find Celtic artifacts that look identical to
one another. Predictability seemed very boring to the Celtic
As Christianity spread throughout the Celtic world, it absorbed
much of the Celtic culture and style. Because religious artwork
featuring animals was considered pagan by the Roman Church, Celtic
interweavings gradually became simplified into the exquisite
knotted-ribbon designs you see today, without heads or feet.
- John Urban
personal Celtic designs If you have an
idea for a celtic design, but no finished images for us to work
with, you may wish to contact Cari Buziak at http://www.aon-celtic.com/ for
design assistance with your Celtic pattern idea. At this time we are
only able to work from finished images if you can supply
HIGH-QUALITY CELTIC LINKS:
ARTIST-TEACHERS OF CELTIC DESIGN
Buziak's showcase. She is a very talented and joyful multi-media
Celtic artist, and she also offers tutorials.
EXCEPTIONAL CELTIC ARTISTS
- Celtic woodcarving. One-of-a-kind originals, from
art like nothing you have ever seen before, by Steven
- Multi-media artist and philosopher, Jen Delyth.
- Original Celtic art: matted prints, cards, and more,
by Lisa Laughy
COINS & ARTIFACTS
Celtic Coins. Chris Rudd is the best source of quality, with a
wonderful illustrated monthly catalogue
- Celtic and medieval coins and artifacts.
- A long-running international Celtic arts and culture
CELTIC STONE MONUMENTS
- Builders of
large carved stone Celtic crosses, and other monuments.
McKennitt is so much more than just a fabulous Celtic musician and
singer. Just listening to her speak changes people. A yearning for
social justice, deep spirituality and humanism enrich all who have
an open heart.
Irish Society of Ottawa.
- Extensive site dedicated to the Picts.
online newspaper and book reviews. Outstanding analyses by Peter
CANADIAN-US $ EXCHANGE RATES
- Up-to-the-minute US/Canadian dollar exchange
a medieval wedding ceremony!
- Replicas of Viking and Norse ships being made by
revivalists. Fabulous Norse animal interweaves chisled into their
replica boats! Oseberg, Jelling and Urnes Viking design