As the modified generation experiences a cultural resurgence, many of us our turning to our ancestral roots for a deeper understanding of who we are, and who we want to be. And what better time than at the holy grail of Irish-American holidays to explore the style of our Celtic ancestors? For anyone who has Irish or Celtic blood, discovering the beauty of traditional Celtic and Gaelic design is a perfect vehicle for connecting with our heritage.
There are many intricate tribal elements that were commonly used for tattooing, jewelry, or other adornment by our Irish forefathers, but variations of a few remain popular even today. Amongst the most notable: the Celtic knot, the Celtic cross, and the tree of life. Most often depictions of flora, fauna, and celestial bodies would find their way into tattoos or amulets, as the Celtic connection to the natural world was known to run deep throughout all aspects of their culture.
In modern times, the Celtic knot has become a symbol of Irish heritage, and is frequently associated with Saint Patrick’s Day jewelry. Popular variations of the knot include the “love knot” (generally depicted as a heart-shaped knot, or two infinity symbols crossed over one another), the trinity knot (which dates back to St. Patrick’s conversion of the Irish and represents the Christian trinity), and the square or “shield knot,” which was often placed on the shield or in the tattoos of warriors to protect them from harm.
The meaning of many traditional shapes in knot-work has unfortunately been lost to time, but as long as we continue to have Irish descendents, the Celtic knot will live on, and continue to influence our fashion sense.