Origins of Celtic knotworks

The Celtic knots were the creation of Celts in the early Celtic Church who resided mainly in Ireland. Around AD 450, Christian Celtic artwork was influenced by pagan Celtic sources which incorporated an additional knotwork category of life form motifs. The Celtic knots then spread to the Scottish Highlands and Europe via missionary expeditions. This traditional culture of knotworks in manuscript painting was passed down orally with non-existent written records.

Many groups of people began to embrace the Celtic art form. These groups included the Irish, Picts, the Scots of Dal Riada and the Northumbrians. Celtic knotwork then underwent some form of adaptation and assimilation with other cultures. An example of this would be the Anglo-Saxons, Welsh and other religious communities who created the "Hiberno-Saxon" tradition, which incorporated Saxon and Pictish abstract beast forms into the early Celtic knotwork. The early Irish works were consistent in the concept of unending loops, while Germanic and Roman adaptations had loose ends in some occasions. Celtic knotworks became the style of that time.

This Celtic golden age of the 7th to 10th centuries began its decline after the Normans' invasion. In the more Gaelic areas, the Celtic tradition continued, as these Gaelic aristocrats continued to patronise Celtic decorated ornaments. The Celtic culture was looked back as the glory of the ancestors of these people, with the knotwork becoming to an extent the symbol of political and cultural identity.

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