History of Celtic Design Tattoos

Body art popularity has exploded in the last twenty-five years. Once considered the domain of bikers and sailors, today you can find tattoos on almost anyone, and Celtic tattoos are among the most popular designs chosen today. Characterized by intricate designs of interwoven or “braided” bands, Celtic designs have been appearing in jewelery and tattoo styles for many years but have seen a considerable surge in popularity since the mid nineties.

It’s believed Celtic tattoos trace their origins as far back as cave paintings. The Pict, one of the ancient peoples of the British Isles, are believed to have tattooed animal art on their bodies by puncturing their skin with hot sticks to create the patterns. Later on, a blue dye rendered from the leaves of a plant called woad was used to enhance the designs by coloring the skin.

Both beautiful and intricate, Celtic tattoos are more than just a design. Most express some religious significance, a mix of Christian and Druid beliefs that have become entwined through the centuries. Why the mix? The Celts had no written form of language and passed on all of their traditions and beliefs orally. However, when Christianity reached ancient Britain’s shores, monks introduced the first written language to the culture and began incorporating Celt designs into Christian symbolism as a way to bridge the gap between Druids and Christ. Much of this incorporation is represented in The Book of Kells, a work by those same monks, which has been preserved at the library of Trinity College in Dublin Ireland. The Celtic cross, and shamrock are two prime examples of their work.

Celtic knot tattoos are some of the most popular and most prevalent patterns, featuring loops with no end that symbolize a endless cycle of dying and rebirth.  There are Celtic animal tattoo designs too, that happen to be similar in design to the knot tattoos, although the cords inside the design usually terminate in heads, tails, and feet.  The pure knot tattoo patterns are usually never ending, unless an individual adds an end to symbolize a spiral.

The meaning behind the knots in Celtic tattoos defies any sort of literal translation and is observed at a much deeper level. The interlacing of the knots expresses the repeated crossing of both physical and spiritual elements. The strands and their never ending path is actually a popular design for Celtic tattoos, representing life, faith, and love.  For many years, Celtics used these designs for emotional and heritage purposes.

Those who are from a Celtic descent, Irish, Scots, or Welsh, typically find a Celtic tattoo as a great way to communicate their heritage pride.  These tattoos help to reestablish pride, and give tribute to one’s ancestors.  The tattoos aren’t simple to complete, most taking a number of hours.  Unlike other tattoo designs, Celtic tattoos are hardest designs to do on the planet.

When you are from a Celtic descent and have made a decision to get a Celtic tattoo, the very first thing to do is locatean artist able to do the tattoo. The designs are extremely challenging and not all tattoo artists are capable of doing them. It is usually best to locate a tattoo artist who’s a background in Celtic designs, because this will guarantee the tattoo is completed properly.  The artist who does the tattoo needs to have an eye fixed for detail and precise line placement which is really a skill that not every tattoo artist possess.

The classic Celtic design is of loops and swirls that never end, which is supposed to symbolize a never ending cycle of death and rebirth, but with this being the most popular Celtic tattoo design is also the hardest to tattoo as it does take a bit of practice with drawing the knot work so that it all interconnects correctly, but fortunately there are some good books on the subject.

Although there are some variations featuring animals which means that the strands of Celtic bands end with tails, heads or feet or hooves.

Although the actual meaning of knotted Celtic tattoos can’t be pinned down with a literal translation, but the general idea is that the interlacing of each knot represents a repetition of spiritual and physical elements of life, love and faith and the deeper connection could have been personalized with each design for Celtic heritage but also an emotional attachment.

The Celts were spread out mainly in three groups in Welsh, Scots and Irish descent and back in the days of clans carried with it a pride of heritage with tattoo designs that would later pay tribute to their ancestors.

If you are considering getting a Celtic tattoo, then you will have to find a good tattoo artist who has done a large body of Celtic designs in the past, and quite often they have researched well the history of the Celtic art form and together with that they have a steady hand and a brilliant eye for detail and tattoo line art placement.