When people think of Celtic culture and influence, one of the first things that may come to mind for many people is Celtic knots. Celtic knots are popular features in jewelry and other types of art and are instantly recognizable.
History of Celtic Knots
Celtic knots date back to the 3rd to 4th century AD, although historians believe they may have origins as ancient as 500 BCE. Christianity began to influence Celtic art and culture around the year 450, and Celtic patterns started appearing in early Christian manuscripts and on Celtic stone crosses. The first examples of true knotted Celtic designs appeared in the 7th century. The Celtic style is associated with Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Celtic knots became a popular design for tattoos in the 1970s and 80s.
One of Ireland’s most famous Christian manuscripts, the Book of Kells, is an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. Created around 800 AD, it is renowned for its extravagant and complex illustrations, many of which feature Celtic knots.
Other Types of Celtic Knots
There are eight major types of Celtic knots, most of which are endless knots, with no defined beginning or end.
The trinity knot, sometimes called the triquetra knot, originally represented one of the ancient triple goddesses associated with motherhood and fertility. Later, it took on the Christian meaning of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In neopaganism, the trinity knot represents the Mother, the Maiden, and the Crone, signifying a woman’s life cycle and associated with the phases of the moon.
The spiral knot is another three-pronged design said to represent earth, water, and fire.
The sailor’s knot looks similar to a standard braid and is supposed to symbolize friendship, affection, and love.
The shield knot is a four-cornered knot pattern that offers protection from spirits or battlefield opponents.
Solomon’s knot is not technically a knot, but is composed of interlocking loops, which may be in the shape of ovals, rectangles, or pointed ovals. This knot is generally thought to symbolize eternity and immortality, and it may also represent the ideas of infinite love or faith.
The Dara knot represents the roots of an oak tree, symbolizing strength and a spiritual connection.
Celtic Cross Knots
Celtic crosses usually feature knotwork in an interlacing pattern on the four limbs of the cross, with a central circular endless knot pattern. However, sometimes the entire length of the knotwork is connected.
What is the meaning of the Celtic love knot?
Like most Celtic knots, the Celtic love knot is an example of an endless knot, meaning the knot weaves around itself and has no discernible start or end. You may not be surprised to discover that a knot or pattern drawn in this manner is said to symbolize eternity and eternal life. The love knot, in particular, is generally shaped like two interlocking hearts, placed either next to each other or with one facing up and the other facing down. This pattern was invented by the Celts around 2500 BCE. Modern adaptations to the Celtic love knot pattern may feature interlocking patterns rather than the original endless knot design. The Celtic love knot is believed to have been exchanged at weddings in the same manner as rings are in the modern era, as a symbol of eternal love and devotion. The love knot is common in Celtic jewelry, as well as body art (like tattoos), logos, and embroidery.
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