It seems improbable to believe that this timeless, enduring, popular jewelry design called Celtic originated from the people the ancient Greeks then referred to as the ‘barbarians’. Of course, the Greeks eventually gave them a proper name and came up with “Keltoi”: roughly translated it meant “Barbarian people to the North of Greece”. Simply put, these ancient Celts were the direct ancestors of every person with an ounce of European blood who are alive in present times. The ancient Celts consisted of several tribes classified by their respective language: Gaulish (French to Italian); Celtiberian (Spanish); Goedelic ( Irish & Scottish); and of course, Brythonic ( British English). But these ancient Europeans were not the record-keeping type that it became difficult for scholars and researchers to get a whole picture of the way they lived, how they created the jewelry, why they used the symbols, and what the exact and accurate meaning of these Celtic symbols are.
Attempts were made by historians to give light to this mystery and though the given meanings are not vouched for, it may be all right to entertain these interpretations whilst we wait for the accurate ones to be discovered. One thing is sure though, the ancient Celts loved jewelry and their craftsmanship was nowhere near barbaric. What’s more interesting is the fact that these designs are meaningful and yes, mysterious, which added more to its appeal. A book by D.J. Conway called “Celtic Magic” confirmed this:
Both sexes loved jewelry: brooches decorated with gold filigree, cuttlefish shell, garnets, lapis, and other stones; buckles of gold filigree and stones; pins and linked pins with animal-style decoration; necklaces of amber, granulation and chip carving. They wore torques, pendants, bracelets, pins and necklaces. The women sometimes sewed little bells on the fringed ends of their tunics. The elaborate intertwining of their artwork was a guard against the evil eye or curses.”
Take for example: Triquetra, latin for “three-cornered”. It is supposed to be Christianity’s symbol for the Trinity ( Father, Son & Holy Ghost). But there had been studies and research that argued that:
Triquetra has long been a celtic symbol for a woman’s inherent feminine powers: as Mother, Crone and Maiden. Many more Celtic symbols were adapted by the early Christian fathers as a means to convince the pagan Celts to convert to the religion.
But maybe more than this arguable piece of history, there is also a fascinating meaning to the celtic symbol. Foremost of which is Infinity: the alpha and omega of human life; the enduring relationship of God to Mankind, and Man to Woman. Sometimes, we like those interpretations better.
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Category: Jewelry History