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History of Celtic Design Tattoos

Updated on August 8, 2013

The history of Celtic design tattoos involves influences from several different cultures. The Celtic knot tradition inspired the intricate tattoo designs we see today. Celtic knots were created by the Celts from Ireland, Wales and other countries in the Celtic region to communicate with each other. Their lack of a written language gave birth to this unique visual method of communicating with each other.

The Celtic knots represented their love of nature, their people, the environment and other aspects of life. Each design is complex, interlaced and do not have a beginning or end. Who would have thought that these unique emblems would become some of the hottest tattoo designs centuries later?

When the Romans occupied the Celtic regions, Christianity was infused into their culture. Religious and spiritual Celtic knots began to flourish such as the Cross and Trinity representing The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Celtic knots were seen everywhere, from fashion accessories, manuscripts, structures, weapons to metalwork.

The Christian missionaries adopted the tradition by creating religious inspired knot designs that they placed in their Bible manuscripts, Gospel books and religious artifacts. The Celtic cross design was born and remains to be one of the most popular Celtic design tattoos ever. The Celtics were converted to Christianity and a whole new knotwork tradition evolved with more spiritual and religious influence.

Historians can’t really confirm if the ancient Celts indeed used their knot designs as tattoos but Julius Caesar wrote that rebellious Celtics had tattoos on their bodies. Unfortunately Julius Caesar did not mention any details about the Celtic design tattoos in his notes. So, we don’t really know if the tattoos were designed like their traditional knotworks.

The Celts used knotwork to express themselves and portrayed emotion and feeling rather than a realistic object. They represented animals, feelings like love or aggressiveness, characteristics such as strength, rebellion, power and so on. A lot of history and culture go into each Celtic knot design and if you are thinking of getting Celtic design tattoos for yourself, you should get a tattoo artist who specializes in Celtic knots work history.

Because of the popularity of Celtic design tattoos, the tattoo industry is flooded with inaccurate and bogus versions of Celtic designs. It takes an educated and well versed tattoo artist to get the Celtic design right. Due to its complex and intricate style, a proper Celtic tattoo will take a lot of time, patience, dedication and effort to accomplish.

Some tattoo artists just aren’t up to the task and will rush into a job without considering the respect due to a 2,000 year old art of Celtic knotwork. Celtic tattoos are one of the most painstaking and tough patterns a tattoo artist must face in his career. Before hiring the service of a tattoo artist for your Celtic tattoo, be sure to check on his portfolio and find out if he or she is trained in the art of Celtic tattoo art. Do your own research and study authentic Celtic knots and compare your notes and photos with the artist’s own samples.


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      rachelle 3 months ago

      did you have anymore information on C13 celtic knot, very interested in its meaning and design

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      nikki 2 years ago

      Hi. Just wondering if you had any more information about the C15 knot featured in your first picture please. I was wondering if it had a name and meaning and any other info you might have about it too would be great. Thanks