Celtic knot- Art of the celts

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Celtic knots are a variety of knots and stylized graphical representations of knots used for decoration, first known to have been used by the Celts. Though Celtic knots were being created in pre-Christian times, these knots are most known for their use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts like the 8th century Book of Kells.


Not much history of the knots is available prior to the beginning of the Christian influence on the Celts in about A.D. 450. There is much evidence for the use of geometric patterns as ornamentation particularly in jewelry before that time. Some historians have theorized that early celtic religion prevented their depicting creatures realistically, similar, then, to the Islamic prohibition, which gave rise to the development of Arabic calligraphy. Still, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy seemed to arise simply from an aesthetic sense and needed no such prohibition to encourage its development.

The same pre-Christian designs found their way into early Christian manuscripts and artwork with the addition of depictions from life, such as animals, plants and even humans.

In the beginning the patterns were intricately interwoven cords, called plaits, which can also be found in other areas of Europe, like Italy in 6th century. The Lindisfarne Gospels, created in northern Britain in the early 8th century, contains the earliest example of true knotted designs in the Celtic manner, with colorful and intricate illuminations.

It should be noted that some scholars believe the forms known as Celtic knots may actually be Norse in origin. This theory draws support from the well-accepted idea that the Celts readily adapted ideas from cultures with which they traded.


While analysis of the knots seem to point to eight basic types, there is no evidence to indicate that a knot had any specific philosophical or religious significance...