Saturday, April 26, 2014

Celtic Interlace

#23 in the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge

Um, in case you were looking for it, no blog for yesterday—writer’s block reared its ugly head. Sorry!

This morning we received a package from Earth Song Tiles containing the very last tile for our kitchen, and I can hardly wait for the Tuesday after Memorial Day when Mike Roznowski of MJR Tile & Marble starts installing them. 

The claddagh is the one we got today. That’s an Irish design, but still Celtic. It was on the engagement/wedding ring John gave me on Palm Sunday, almost 26 years ago, and naturally has significance for us. It is named for the village of Claddagh in Galway, and although the rings have been made continuously in that province since 1700, they were only known by that name since about 1840. The hands represent friendship, the heart love, and the crown loyalty.

Step Detail from
Lindisfarne Gospels

The question occurred to me: what is Celtic knot or interlace design?  These were used in other parts of Europe, but have come to have cultural associations with Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Spiral, step and key patterns were dominant in pre-Christian Celtic Britain, but after 450 CE, they were often combined with plant and animal motifs.
For the next 200 years, they’d be used in what were called plaits, like intricate woven cords. Folklore says that different patterns had different symbolic meaning—but there’s no hard evidence to back that up.
Almost any interlace can be said to represent spiritual and physical patterns crossing and recrossing in our lives. Any knot can be an eternity or lover’s knot.

Celtic crosses with their distinctive “halo” may have links to pagan sun symbols. Some say the spiral is the next most frequently used pattern, drawn from nature (snail shells, whirlpools, etc.). 

On the one hand, art historians are interested in the ancient traditional applications; present-day Celtic artists want to apply them in new, creative ways. 

Whether in jewelry, stone, book design, hairdos,or any other medium, may your creativity find intricate and new pathways!


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