Modern Celtic tattoo designs have been influenced both by earlier pagan religious practices, which were nature based, and by later Christian beliefs. The Celts are a spiritual people, with one foot in this world and one in the spiritual world. Most of their designs have reference to a deeper meaning.
Stories of the other world fill their folklore. Their art and symbols are heavily influenced by their pre-Christian pagan religions in which they worshipped nature. The sun, moon, stars and the earth were sacred to them, as were animals and the seasons. The cross, in various forms,came to be included in their art after their introduction to Christianity. This mixture is seen in their work today.
Celtic Cross Tattoos
This is the predominant symbol of Christianity but the Celts have given it their own unique design with the ringed cross. The cross, of course, represents the Christian belief itself while the circle can represent eternity or God's eternal love or the continuing act of salvation brought by Christ's death and resurrection.The symbol of the cross predates Christianity and can be found in ancient civilizations. A number of cultures have the cross and circle in their artwork. They have been found on ancient rock carvings. The circle can represent the sun. Those not drawn to Christianity can find other spiritual meaning in the symbols.
Celtic Knot Tattoos
Knot work has elements that evolved from earlier cultures and civilizations, but the Celts have made it their own. People see a symbol of life itself in the endless criss-crossing designs of their knot work. Life is a maze, complex, with each life interwoven with another's. The lines of the drawings are never-ending, representing the continuity of the natural cycle of death and rebirth. It can also represent the crossing over of the physical and spiritual world. It can represent eternity and the boundlessness of God's bounty and goodness.
Animal forms are often intertwined, reflecting the people's earlier connection to nature and the animal world. The images of horses, dogs, birds and other animals can be found skillfully woven into the lines of artwork so that they become an integral part of the whole. Animal images were used in many cultures, often in the hope the wearer might take on some of that animal's skills or characteristics or simply link them spiritually to the animal. All these elements can be found in illuminated documents, such as the Book of Kells, which have heavily influenced modern Celtic tattoo designs.
Celtic Spiral Tattoos
The spiral has fascinated humans from earliest times. It appears on early rock carvings and in most cultures. It is evident in nature in snail and seashells, in the horns of animals and in the galaxy. It has been studied by scientists and mathematicians and pondered on by philosophers.
The triple spiral or triskele is the spiral most associated with Celtic design. The design is found around the world because the Celts made inroads into so many cultures. In earlier times it represented the sun but later came to be used in Christianity to explain the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some see it as representing our spiritual journey to God - an ever-unfolding mystery. Other people regard it as representing life's journey. It is a tattoo symbol full of mystery and can remind us of our own spiritual and emotional journey.
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You can express yourself in your own unique way with one of the many Celtic tattoo designs at www.tattooartdesign.info William Burnell has a longstanding interest in the art, designs and history of tattoos. He enjoys sharing this interest with others and in helping them in their quest for their unique symbol of self-expression.
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