Celtic Designs

Celtic design uses the elements of line, shape/ form, color/value and space. Lines become cats heads or trees or curls or waves or what ever you can imagine. The designs such as the one below were used in Illuminated Manuscripts. Monks drew and painted these one by one. Each had a job. Some drew, some painted. If there were mistakes no one knew. These designs could take weeks to complete. They had not only to be decorative but contain symbols and pictures so that for those that could not read, the story could be figured out. Some were signed some were not.
Though these were fabricated at monastaries all over Europe the Irish seem to have been the most prolific. The Vikings tried to destroy them on every raid but the Monks hid them well. Now speaking of Vikings, there are images and designs that resemble Viking designs.
The Greeks refer to the Celts as being from northwestern Europe. By the days of the Romans the British Isles were occupied by the Celtic speaking peoples also thought to be very primitive people. One can imagine the monks in Ireland being so isolated, away from what world there was working sun up to sun down by candle light , in the cold of Ireland's stone building writing and drawing, writing and drawing. It is said that these Monks saved the English language which some Irish would say that would be the human language.

Art wise, what we have here is a combination of form and function, decoration and expression. The Book of Kells is one of the greatest surviving examples of Celtic writing. Remember that writing is a form of drawing. The book of Kells is written in Latin. it contains the Four Gospels of the New testament. This took place around 800 AD. It is one of Ireland's National treasures. It is considered a Masterwork of art and craft. The style is known as the insular style which is a style produced in Post Roman times. It was a common style in Ireland and Brittan and was completely different from the rest of Europe. It's name came from the Abby of Kells. I remember it as Insular or insulated from the rest of Europe which did leave the monks to their own devices. In the 8th Century the Vikings raids cut short the work on the remaining manuscripts thus the 8th century books are considered the height of Celtic design. The work is noted for the use of animals, people , mythic monsters and decorative motifs such as the Celtic Knot. Also the color was vibrant, intense and symbolic as the examples below exhibit.

Kells_1.jpg kells_2.gif
illustrations from the Book of Kells
KellsChristEnthroned-1.jpg book-of-kells-interlacing-lions-and-vines.gif

book-of-kells1.pngNotice the knots and animal imagery.










cceltic-d_colored-72dpi.jpg The letter D

aon-apprent-knots.gif Celtic knots 436celtic_circle.jpg

This is more arabesque in design but the similarities are unmistakable.
The arabesque is a form of artistic decoration consisting of "surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, ... Wikipedia
4197_coeur-arabesque.png Celtic designed heart

tcn_celticA.jpg the letter A

CelticC.gifthe letter C. Notice the circular design in the C


celtic_orn.jpgThe Illuminated Manuscript



The letter S. An example of an asymmetrical design. The letter C below
celtic_c_sm.gif An Alphabet



Notice any similarities?




celtic_BW.jpg celtic_knott.jpg