One of Ireland’s chief exports (apart from zinc, ore, and Guinness) is artwork. Hugely popular all over the world, the colors, craftsmanship, and patterns integral to Celtic culture can be found reproduced on everything from t-shirts to jewelry. One of the most integral and recognizable elements is Celtic knot work, but do you actually know the meaning behind the knots? Before you get that cool-looking tattoo, better check our basic guide to Celtic knots first.
5) Tree of Life Knot
Just like the Shel Silverstein book about a similar deciduous character, the Tree of Life is all nourishing, all giving, and a symbol of how life continues despite it all. With strong roots to anchor it, and branches reaching out to all, this knot is the perfect design to remind us of how we’re all connected.
4) Sailor’s Knot
Also commonly known as a Lover’s Knot, designs of this type always feature 2 separate threads intertwined until it’s impossible to figure out how to tear them apart. So why are there two different names for the same style of knot? Historically, sailors would present their sweethearts with knots or symbols of this sort before leaving on long voyages. So romantic!
3) Shield Knot
One of the most ancient designs, this four-cornered emblem has a meaning that stretches not only across the ages, but also eras. Believed to offer protection from evil and pestilence, shield knots and carvings were used on everything from battle shields, armor, and linens used to dress the sick. Feeling a bit uneasy? Garb yourself in one of these and you’re set!
2) Trinity Knot
In the Druid tradition, the Trinity Knot was meant to represent the basic elements of Earth, Fire, and Water and the balance they bring to life. The attractive, triangular knot was then repurposed to represent the three stages of womanhood in Maid, Mother, and Crone, a respected element of Irish culture. When Christian missionaries arrived on the emerald shores and were looking for an easy way to explain the complexity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost guess which symbol they chose?
1) Infinity Knot
Here it is, the most popular and varied of the Celtic knot designs. Infinity Knots only have one requirement in their design: they must be infinite. With no beginning and no end to be seen in the hypnotizing loops and twirls, these designs can be found in everything from woodcarving to landscape design. It’s the perfect reminder that we are all, indeed connected by the (cue Disney Music) CIRCLE…..of LIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFE……