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Celtic Culture


It is difficult to define what it is to be Celtic. ... Men wore trousers and knee length tunics and women wore dresses or tunics over skirts. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Celtic Culture

Celtic Culture
A Powerpoint Presentation by Catherine Chenoweth
Who were the Celts?
  • It is difficult to define what it is to be
    Celtic. Celtic culture is an umbrella term used
    to encompass cultures from modern England to the
    Mediterranean, from Spain to Turkey. While
    historians continue to refer to all of these
    people as Celts it is important to know that
    individual cultures within the Celtic
    over-culture are both distinct and sometimes very
    different. For example, while most Celtic
    societies were agricultural and rural some
    subsisted through hunter gathering and others
    created cities and even had written language.
    This presentation focuses on larger trends which
    hold up in most cultures considered Celtic and
    especially on Ireland and the area of modern
    Great Brittan because the most information is
    available in places which managed to avoid the
    Roman conquest such as Ireland.

Where did they come from?
  • Celtic culture is a hybridization of both
    indo-european culture and that of the people
    preceding the indo-europeans. This connection of
    cultures shows in archaeological findings and in
    religion as well as art. The Celts had both a
    strong female and male deity, the male from the
    indo-european culture and the female from an
    older, pre-existing culture.

  • The Celts were fond of color and wore as many
    colors as possible. Men wore trousers and knee
    length tunics and women wore dresses or tunics
    over skirts. Both sexes wore long wool cloaks to
    keep warm. Women also wore make up to brighten
    their cheeks and eyes and sometimes paint stripes
    on their faces. During battle, warriors went
    naked or shirtless and covered their bodies with
    designs in a die called wode which was an indigo
    blue and was supposed to protect them from harm.

  • The Celts were fond of jewelry and both men and
    women used it to decorate themselves. Gold was
    the metal of choice. The women wore rings,
    bracelets, armbands belts, girdles and necklaces,
    while men wore bracelets, rings, and belts. They
    also wore toques around their necks. A torque is
    a piece of metal in the shape of a u or a circle
    that is worn around the neck and equated with a
    persons honor. Pictured to the right, a torque.

Celtic Art
  • The style usually associated with Celtic artwork
    is in fact a style particular to only some of the
    areas and cultures defined as Celtic. This La
    Tene style is by far the most recognizable and
    best preserved of all Celtic art because of the
    use of it by christians on manuscripts especially
    in Ireland.

La Tene Style
  • La Tene is a title referring to an area in
    modern Switzerland where there was a flourishing
    of Celtic culture and arts between 600BCE and the
    Roman conquest of the area after 100C.  The term
    La Tene is most frequently used to describe the
    artistic style typically associated with the
    Celts.  It is characterized by swirling geometric
    knot work and stylized animal and vegetal

Celtic Knots
Although Celtic knots have been described as
important religious symbols, most historians
agree that they are simply decorative. The use
of this distinctive style in later Christian
works comes from the idea that to depict sacred
things is a form of idolatry.
Christian Art
  • After St. Patrick converted much of Ireland to
    Christianity, Celtic artwork was preserved
    through the illuminated manuscripts created by
    monks and stone carvings used to decorate
    churches. The Christians, especially in Ireland
    where the culture had not already been overrun by
    Rome, preserved and the artistic style of the
    Celts even as their culture moved away from the
    traditional Celtic way of life. In many ways
    these religious orders perfected the elaborate
    and unique technique the Celts have become famous

The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an Irish illuminated
manuscript of the Four Gospels and other
Christian texts which is generally considered the
height and perfection of the Celtic La Tene style
of art. Each page is decorated in elaborate
designs and pictures that are both very beautiful
and show clearly the hybridization of both Celtic
and christian lifestyles and beliefs.
More Pictures from the Book of Kells
  • Although usually thought of as preserving Celtic
    artwork and culture, these Irish monks were
    recording their own culture as it changed from
    more traditionally Celtic to christian,
    especially in Ireland the transition from
    polytheistic animism to christianity was a
    transition and not a death of culture.

Celtic artwork and the La Tene style continue to
be passed on to this day through modern artwork.
People descended of the ancient Celts are working
to reclaim their cultural heritage through
artistic, spiritual, and historical means
Class Structure
Celtic society was organized based on families,
it was very important to know at least four or
five generations worth of ancestors.  An
individual who was excommunicated from their
family was considered as a slave or outcaste. 
Although Celtic society was varied, most groups
were fluid in there allegiance with rulers,
allying themselves only when it benefited their
larger family.  They also have a system of three
social classes. The highest class was composed
of druids, bards, and skilled crafts people.  The
next class was made up of those who may have
owned land and the warriors.  Next came the
producers, the laborers and the freedmen.
Connection to India
  • Many striking connections and parallels have
    been found between the cultures of ancient Vedic
    India and the Celtic people of Europe.  Rituals,
    linguistic connections and similarities in social
    order all point to the fact that these seemingly
    different cultures split from each other
    relatively recently. Many historians believe the
    caste system in India to be the same as the three
    class social organization in Celtic society.

  • http//www.cs.ubc.ca/nest/imager/contributions/sch
    arein/celtic/sorta- celtic.html
  • http//www.craytech.com/drew/knotwork/knotwork-mea
  • http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_knot
  • http//www.vedanet.com/HinduCeltic.htm
  • http//www.angelfire.com/home/thefaery5/
  • http//www.natall.com/national-vanguard/116/celts2
  • http//www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/anceur/r
  • http//www.ares.u-net.com/celtindx.htm (the term
  • http//www.internet-at-work.com/hos_mcgrane/celtic
  • http//www.accd.edu/sac/vat/arthistory/arts1303/Ce
  • http//labyrinth.georgetown.edu/
  • http//www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/48449
  • http//www.unc.edu/depts/art/verkerk/celtic/celtic
  • http//celticdejavu.tripod.com/celticculture.html

Bibliography Continued
  • Cahill, Thomas, How the Irish Saved Civilization,
    Anchor Books, New York, 1995.
  • http//www.suite101.com/course.cfm/17702/seminar
  • http//www.celtdigital.org/
  • http//www.celticcorner.com/index.html
  • http//members.optusnet.com.au/dwkneen/Celts/hist
  • http//www.geocities.com/dubricius/
  • http//www.greyhawkes.com/text/celts.txt
  • http//www.haverford.edu/engl/faculty/Sherman/Iris
  • http//celtdigital.org/Durrow.htm
  • http//www.snake.net/people/paul/kells/
  • http//www.ragnarokpress.com/artype/kells/
  • http//www.virtualireland.ru/ivi/celts.jpg
  • http//www.spa.edu/jjohnson/images/Celtic20Art.jp
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