The Book of KeLLs

Probably the most famous Celtic illuminated manuscript is the Book of Kells, produced e.800. Incredibly colorful and vivid, it was described by art historian Sir Arthur Sullivan as having "a weird and commanding beauty." It has captivated generations with its intricate loveliness, and serves as a window into the late Celtic world.

Secreto Del Libro Del Kells Titulo

T-] he complexity and remoteness of Celtic

_I symbolism often makes it impossible to interpret, but when combined with discernible Christian symbolism some insights are possible. The glory of the Book of Kells is that it combines both pre- and post-Christian influences. Created in the late eighth-early ninth centuries, the manuscript represents the culmination of the Celtic art renaissance. On display at Trinity College Library, Dublin, it is regarded as one of the highest achievements of Celtic illumination.

Until recently the manuscript's intricate ornamentation was regarded as decorative, but detailed studies have shown that the symbolism is actually very subtle and complex. Scholars and art historians—who are still arguing over the interpretation of this late Celtic masterpiece—now consider that, although meanings have been lost over time, many are also identifiable through the study of Celtic religion and literature. This symbolism is often multi-layered, with one image evoking more than one meaning.

Some symbolism is reasonably easy to determine. In the Chrisli Autem page (folio 43),

Facing: The Gospel of St. John's title page depicts the seated saint surrounded by intricate interwoven designs.

Below: The beautiful initial letter of the "Monogram" folio combines abstract designs with stylized human faces.

the illumination includes air symbols (angels and butterflies), earth symbols (two cats watching two mice, or a rat eating a crust), and water symbols (an otter catching a fish). The form of the first great initial letter on the page may represent four streams of radiant energy, emanating from Christ's Godliness. Other scholars argue that it can be interpreted in the context of the Celtic religious text, which refers to "the four rivers of the virtues flowing out of one bright and health-giving paradise, irrigating the whole breadth of the Christian Church."

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