Fancy learning how to draw one of Ireland’s most iconic and memorable symbols? Give it a go with our guide on how to draw the Celtic knot.
Celtic symbolism has seen a boom in popularity in recent years. The growing appetite for Celtic mythology, language, names, and jewellery seems to be insatiable.
As part of this revival, the famous ‘Celtic knot’ has been popping up in all sorts of places. But what is it, exactly? Where did it come from, and what does it mean?
Join us as we explore the origins of this ancient Irish design and how to draw the Celtic knot.
What is a Celtic knot? – an iconic Irish symbol
Celtic knots (known as ‘snaidhm Cheilteach’ in Irish), are a variety of knots often used for decoration both in ancient and modern times. Seen across numerous cultures, including ancient Celtic and Norse traditions, the knot is known for its unending stems.
The fact that the stem has no end has led to associations with unending love and eternal life. There are many variations of this ancient symbol, such as the knot with three stems, or maze patterns.
The famous ‘Book of Kells’, which is on show in Trinity College Dublin Library, includes many beautiful variations of the Celtic knot in its ancient pages. But the knot can also be found in more recent creations, such as jewellery.
History of the Celtic knot – where did it come from?
A regular feature in art, the Celtic knot has been found in many ancient cultures. Although it has its origins in the late Roman Empire, the knot design can also be spotted in ancient Coptic, Islamic, Ethiopian, and Byzantine artwork.
Significantly, the ancient Celts appear to have held this design in high regard.
The Celtic knot is often associated with Christianity. And this is for good reason, considering the many stone Celtic knot crosses that can be found throughout Ireland.
However, the knot existed here before Christianity first began to influence Celtic culture in approximately 450 AD, suggesting the symbol was also important to prehistoric and pagan people.
Different types of Celtic knots – countless variations
There are many different variations of the Celtic knot, but in each of these, the central feature remains the same: the line is never-ending, representing the continual and lasting nature of life and love.
One of the most well-known and well-loved variations of the Celtic knot is the ‘Triquetra’, also known as ‘The Trinity Knot’.
The number three was sacred to the Celts, representing many things, such as the phases of the moon, stages of life, and the trimesters of pregnancy. If this knot looks familiar to you, it may be from its prominent use in the supernatural 90s TV show Charmed.
The ‘Celtic cross’ is often associated with Ireland. Both a religious and spiritual symbol, it is often viewed by Christians as representing Jesus Christ and his crucifixion. It also held meaning in pre-Christian Ireland, when it is said to have symbolised the Sun God.
Another variation of the Celtic knot is the ‘shield knot’, which was believed to have powerful abilities to prevent evil spirits and negative energy from entering your home.
It is also a Celtic symbol of strength, often being brought into battle (hence the name). This variation is seen throughout many cultures, often as a protector against danger.
How to draw the Celtic knot – a simple guide to get you started
Although you can try your hand at any of the Celtic knot variations we have introduced here, we will provide a few steps on creating a simplified version of the ever-popular triquetra’.
Start by drawing three dots on your page, spaced out equally in the shape of a triangle.
Next, draw a curved line between the two bottom spots, with the top of the curve reaching about halfway to the top dot (or, roughly at the centre of the 3 dots).
Turn the page clockwise until what was your top dot is now one of the two bottom ones. Repeat the above steps for these two dots.
Once you have done this, you will hopefully have a simple outline that slightly resembles a flower with three petals.
Now you can start to flesh out the design, making the lines thicker. And soon, you will have your very first simple knot design.
If you fancy building on this and attempting more intricate variations, there are many video demonstrations online for you to choose from.
Whether you are looking to incorporate this ancient design into your artwork or are simply looking for inspiration for choosing a piece of jewellery, we hope that this guide has inspired you to delve even deeper into the world of the sacred Celtic knot.
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