> From: Pedro Rocha [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> I was peering over some islamic designs so that I could make a jolly
> beautiful drawing for my bonny sweetheart, when I came upon some
> knot-stuff. Mostly, they were close to those saxon-like (?)
That's the question, isn't it? Are they saxon, Irish, Viking, or
even brought back by crusaders or traders? The topic is much discussed, and
many take a position one way or the other. But the great variety of opinions
itself is an indicator of the bottom line: we don't know.
> knots in which birds and dragons usually are found twisting their long
> necks in very unconfortable positions - but without the beasts (since
> muslim despise representing life-forms, as I get it).
Actually, it's considered forbidden by the Koran.
> I even saw something like that many-legged celtic wheel.
The triskele? Now that's really interesting. Of course, it's not an
exclusively Celtic symbol--in fact, though it's the symbol of the island of
Mann, some think it was introduced as such by Vikings who had been traveling
to places like Sicily. (I'm not suggesting that's true--just giving you an
idea of the various ideas afloat.)
> I was intrigued. Being no academic (at least not
> as it comes to art or celtic stuff), I have now and again heard "rumours"
> connecting the celts to the peoples of the middle eats, but haven't found
> anything deffinitely concrete (in my judgement, of course). I went through
> the list archives, peeping at what people have posted on this subject, but
> nothing that I found said anything specifically about the knot-stuff. I
> wonder if anybody with a knack for History of Art would be feeling like
> sharing anything about this? The designs I've come upon are mostly from
> out iluminated Korans from the 11th to 14th centuries.
There's really no agreement. I asked about this on medieval religion
list several months ago and got a LOT of different answers, none conclusive,
and a couple of academics admitted they'd changed their positions several
times. The thing is, Europeans got around a LOT, much more than we give them
credit for, and exchanged ideas and motifs constantly. The thing we can't be
sure about is to what extent this exchange also occurred with Islamic
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Irish, at least, may used
knots in magical practice. But the evidence is scant.
There's one book on the subject that I found interesting. It's a collection
of essays called _The Insular Tradition_ by The Insular Tradition (Suny
Series in Medieval Studies) edited by Catherine E. Karkov, Michael Ryan,
Robert Farrell Paperback - 307 pages (October 1997) State Univ of New York
Pr; ISBN: 0791434567 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.60 x 8.92 x 5.84
It won't answer all your quesitons, but it does give an idea of the various
approaches and thoughts being considered today. I know you have limited
access to books, but this one is available through amazon.com and, since
it's a paperback, wouldn't cost as much to buy or ship.
I'm sorry this isn't more help.