Unknotting The Meaning Of Celtic Knotwork

Knots have been part of our lives all along, but scriptures don’t provide much explanation about them. You might have come across knot patterns in many parts of the world. In Islamic countries, the mosques are profoundly decorated with knot like patterns. You may find knot work motifs from the American to Hindu iconography. In Tibet, eternal knot is a common symbol of representing the endless cycle of existence.

The knot is also one of the most familiar motifs found in Celtic jewelry and it originated from the Celtic iconography. However, the Celts before the Roman Empire were spread all around the world, but these designs are predominant in places like England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. From the writings of the Romans, its cleared noted that the Celts were strong believers in God and his power and the land anchored particular god or goddesses that were honored.

Knot work was unknown before the Christian influence on the Celts and during that era the only known Celtic artwork consisted of geometrical patterns like key patterns, spirals, step patterns etc. It is suggested that the Celtic religion prevented the Celts from depicting the creators work in the form of designs like for example they were restricted from using designs that replicate animal, plants or humans. Celtic artwork was mainly restricted to geometrical patterns.

Knot work designs are part of many cultures and it is suggested that the motifs were found in abundance in ancient history. Knot work is generally viewed as metaphor that explains the unique tapestry. In general, knots express the life on earth that is deeply interconnected. Celtic knots expressed the Biblical aphorism ‘We reap what we sow’, which is similar to the Eastern karmic thoughts.

It is true that knots hold specific meaning that relates to sacred geometry. Geometry defines nature like the shape of the earth, eyes, trunk of the trees, shape of the leaves etc. Same is the case with knots that use the circular pattern. Celtic knot work was highly influenced by the pagan Celtic sources. Plait work is one of the earliest forms of knot work, but it is not unique for the Celts. Knotwork patterns can be formed by reattaching the plaits and the first examples came to light during the early 700 AD in Italy.

Some believe that the knots did not denote specific symbols. Knots did not use specific patterns or concepts and knots were simply used to fill space. The symbolic connectedness and continuity seemed apparent to simply denote knotwork patterns.

Square knot motifs carry more stability and structure which is why buildings have a particular shape like a square foundation and numerology also plays a considerable part in the ancient culture. The number five represents the four directions and the center point or the five senses.

Oval knot work like the shape of an egg has something to do with generative creativity and birth. The elongated planetary path is also denoted in the form of oval and if you squeeze two oval figures together then you would get the lemniscates the symbol of infinity.