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Articles > Celtic Knotwork

Celtic Knot Tattoos

Body art that reproduces centuries-old Celtic symbols has ranked among the most popular categories of tattoo designs for decades. The ancient Celts are a tribe with origins that predate recorded history; sadly, prehistoric Celtic tattooists left behind no ancient volumes of tattoo flash inked onto goatskin, nor any other written evidence of what the earliest Celtic tattoo designs may have looked like.

Celtic warriors are said to have used tattoos in pre-Roman days to terrorize opposing forces in battle. The designs that adorned the skin of ancient Celtic warriors probably more closely resemble prehistoric Stone Age carvings than modern-day Celtic designs.

Celtic tattoos today are on the whole borrowed or adapted from Irish illuminated manuscripts, religious texts richly illustrated by monks in the 6th to 9th centuries. A world-famous example of an illuminated manuscript is the Irish national treasure known as The Book of Kells.

Celtic Knotwork Celtic Knot
As is evident from these two examples, Celtic knots can range from incredibly simple to fiendishly complex.

The most common motif in Celtic tattoo designs is Celtic knotwork, also known as Celtic interlace. These intricate knotwork designs twist and turn, and double back into themselves without beginning or end. Celtic interlace may appear in a variety of geometric shapes, including spirals, squares, rectanges, circles and triangles. Depending on the person attempting to interpret them, Celtic symbols may take on a wide range of significances and meanings.

Almost as popular as the Celtic knot in tattoo design are the Celtic cross and the claddagh. The claddagh features two hands holding a heart, topped by a crown, and has traditionally symbolized to the Irish people the three exalted virtues of love, friendship and loyalty. The Celtic cross is distinguished by the ring that encircles the intersection of the cross.

For More Information. If you are interested in exploring this topic in more depth, presents additional articles and resources on Celtic designs, art, illuminated manuscripts and symbolism.

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