Celtic knots are a variety of knots and stylized graphical representations of knots used for decoration used extensively in the Celtic style of Insular art. These knots are most known for their adaptation for use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts, such as the 8th-century St. Teilo Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. Most are endless knots, and many are varieties of basket weave knots.
These knots are complete loops that have no start or finish and could be said to represent eternity whether this means loyalty, faith, friendship, or love. Only one thread is used in each design which symbolizes how life and eternity are interconnected. These complex designs are used as decorative accompaniments to a variety of items including jewelry sets, plates, mugs, clothing, and even cutlery. Our Gthic jewelry is designed with a Celtic knot, and the ring made with it has a beautiful meaning and represents eternity.
Celtic Knot History
The use of interlace patterns had its origins in the late Roman Empire. Knot patterns first appeared in the third and fourth centuries AD and can be seen in Roman floor mosaics of that time. Interesting developments in the artistic use of interlaced knot patterns are found in Byzantine architecture and book illumination, Coptic art, Celtic art, Islamic art, Kievan Rus'ian book illumination, Ethiopian art, and European architecture and book illumination.
Spirals, step patterns, and key patterns are dominant motifs in Celtic art before the Christian influence on the Celts, which began around 450. These 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 intricate interwoven cords, called plaits, which can also be found in other areas of Europe, such as Italy, in the 6th century. A fragment of a Gospel Book, now in the Durham Cathedral library and created in northern Britain in the 7th century, contains the earliest example of true knotted designs in the Celtic manner. The Celtic knot as a tattoo design became popular in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.
Types of Celtic Knots
Trinity Knot (Triquetra)
The meaning of the trinity knot is that with no beginning and no end, it represents unity and eternal spiritual life. The symbols line interweaves through the circle in an unbroken flow.
Many believe that this symbol represents the pillars of early Celtic Christian teachings of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
It also represents the unity of spirit when enclosed in a circle. The circle protects it, so the symbolic spirit cannot be broken. People today wear the Triquetra for any of these reasons and to be reminded of the continuity and multi-faceted nature of higher truths.
The Celtic Cross was a religious or spiritual symbol. The circle is a reference to the Sun God in ancient times. For Christians, the circle surrounding the head of the cross represents God’s, eternal love. Wonderful examples of stone Celtic high crosses have survived down through the centuries. These distinctive crosses have been adapted and passed between cultures and religions over time.
There are other explanations for the Celtic cross. One interpretation is that the four ‘arms’ represent the four cardinal directions of the earth (north, south, east, and west). Another interpretation of the Celtic Cross symbol is that it represents the four elements: Earth, fire, water, and air.
Celtic Love Knot
This design features interlaced knots and represents the love between two people. It is believed that the Celts exchanged these knots in much the same way as we exchange rings in the modern age. The pattern is infinite, it is used to represent a relationship of everlasting love.
Celtic Symbol and Meaning
The three spirals on the Triskele represent the three worlds:
- The Present World: The physical realm where we live and exist.
- The Otherworld: The home of spirit guides, our ancestors, and deities.
- The Celestial World: The sun, moon, stars, and planets.
The meaning of the Celtic Triskelion is seen as a symbol of strength and progress. As it appears to be moving, the Triskelion also represents the will to move forward and overcome adversity.
The number 3 was a significant and powerful number for the Celts and a host of other ancient civilizations. The number was deemed sacred, so anything that appeared in three parts was a representation of great religious value. Triquetra and Triskele are both composed of three parts.
The Celtic Tree of Life
The Celtic Tree of Life symbol represents strength, longevity, and wisdom, all of which were attributes that the Celts revered. They also believed that the tree symbolized rebirth (they would have witnessed it shed its leaves in fall and grow new ones in spring). The Celtic tree of life symbol also clearly shows the link between every root below the ground and every branch above.
The Dara Knot
The Dara Knot is made up of intertwined lines with no beginning or end. The Dara Knot is an intricate type of knot that resembles a tree. The Irish word 'Doire' means 'oak tree', and the knot shows both the tree and the root system. Trees were very significant in Celtic life and oaks were considered especially sacred. It represents wisdom, strength, power, and leadership.
Other Celtic knot jewelry in our shop: