Intricate and harmonious, I think we can all agree there is a beauty to each and every style of Celtic Knot. As our most popular Irish designs include Celtic knotwork, we wanted to share what we have learned about the meaning of Celtic Knots.
Original Celtic knot designs can be dated back to the 3rd-4th century. Abtract in composition, each design is believed to carry special significance to the people of that time.
When it comes to interpreting their meaning, it is worth noting there are some limitations. Without written records, the meaning of some of these unique symbols will inevitably have been lost in the mists of time.
Today, our understanding of the meaning of a Celtic knot is based on the facts we know for sure. Information such as where a Celtic knot is found or what other objects have been found at the same site is used to interpret.
For example, a Celtic Knot may often be found engraved into stone at burial sites. They are believed to have represented faith, declare unity between people and in some cases, to protect against evil spirits. These continuous patterns are believed to reference eternity and eternal life especially the knots found at burial sites such as Newgrange Passage Tomb, Co.Meath.
Celtic knots famously comprise of one continuous line, with no beginning and no end. A pattern of infinity. Here is a list of 8 of the most well known Celtic Knots and their meaning.
8 Popular Celtic Knots & What they Mean
1. The Celtic Cross was a religious or spiritual symbol. The circle being 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.
2. The Trinity Knot or triquetra was used to symbolize and honor the Mother, Maiden and Crone of the neo-pagan triple goddess. It signifies the three life-cycles of a woman in relation to the phases of the moon.
In more recent times, it has come to be recognized as a symbol for ‘The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit’. This famous design has recently seen somewhat of a revival with Irish jewelry designers and silversmiths reintroducing this Celtic design into jewelry pieces. Today, it is commonly worn as a symbol of Irish ancestry or everlasting love.
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Tree of Life
3. The third most common Celtic knot is the Tree Of Life. This knot symbolizes the Irish and Celts’ affinity with nature. The flowing form of the Celtic tree represents how the natural world is inherently balanced and harmonious. The Celts had a fascinating and insightful perspective on nature. Their understanding and respect of the natural world is one to be revered and importance of nature to life is reflected in their use of this symbol.
Celtic Love Knot
4. The Celtic Love knot, sometimes referred to as the Anam Cara Knot (Deriving from the Irish words for soul friend from Celtic wisdom) is a modern addition to the Celtic knot family. Two Celtic knot hearts intertwine to form one. This is a contemporary adaption of the classic Celtic knot. Again the pattern is infinite, it is used to represent a relationship of everlasting love.
5. The Sailor’s Knot comprises of two ropes woven together to create endless loops. The story behind this design is that Celtic sailors would weave ropes in memory of the loves ones left behind as they embarked on treacherous voyages on open seas. These knots also signify eternal love. A love that will never break because these knots are the most durable of all the Celtic knots.
6. To protect and ward away evil spirits from their homes and on the battlefield, Celts used the Shield Knot. Typically, these knots contain four corners and can be either circular or square. There are two spiral knots, including the Spiral Knot and the Triple Spiral Knot. The meaning behind these Celtic knots is very different, despite the similarity in design.
7. The Spiral Knot is thought to represent the journey from the physical life to the spiritual life. This is based on the location of where these engravings have been found at and around grave sites, burial and passage tombs.
8. The Triple Spiral is another trinity style design and is represented by three connecting spirals. It is thought that they were used to representing the natural world land, sea and sky.
Here at Claddagh Design Irish Jewellery, we are passionate about Irish art. Inspired by the thousands of examples of beautiful Irish artwork of our past, jewellery designer Eileen Moylan designs and handcrafts her unique pieces in her workshop in County Cork, Ireland. Find out more about what we do
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