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Subject: Re: Irish - Buddhist Connection
From: Mardi Cook <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Wed, 27 Sep 1995 09:32:39 +1000

text/plain (51 lines)

>I recently attended a Mongolian art exhibit which happened to feature the
>eight symbols of Buddhism.  One of them was the "Endless Knot," which I was
>told signified endless love and harmony.
>This knot could have passed for an example of Celtic knotwork.  It was
>identical to designs I have seen in various books.
>I also saw other example of endless, but less symmetrical, knots in the
>Mongolian silverwork.
>Does anyone know the connection, if any, between Celtic knotwork and a
>Buddhist symbol and Mongolian art?  Are these examples of convergent
>evolution, or did one hail from the other(s)?
Hmmmmm - hard to say to say really. Since there is still debate as to where
the Celts spread themselves and during what time frame, at best all we can
do is guess. The actual concept of knotwork, spirals etc are rather
universal in their symbolism. Examples can be seen in Chinese works, Nordic
and later from adapted Mediterranean designs. I am unsure of the history of
Chinese art and symbolism and its timing re: origins, but I am guessing that
perhaps this is where the Buddhist and Mongolian styles may be related. The
Nordic examples are Celt in origin.
As the Celts travelled extensively throughout Europe pre Roman domination,
other concepts were drawn into their work (no pun intended!) However it must
be noted that the Celts were masters of metal work (including armoury,
agricultural implements and fine work) long before the Romans etc were
confident in their uses of iron and primarily they are original masters for
this form of work. Largely they stayed true to their cultural styles.
In a nutshull, I believe that as various cultures had some common universal
themes such as the spiral of life, it is highly possible that neither
evolved from the other, but in fact just came about within their various
cultures. Other examples of this repeating pattern can be found with the
spirals for example, within North American art, African, Celtic and one or
two other cultures that don't come imediately to mind at present.
The other similarity that exists between cultural art (especially Buddhist
and Celtic) was the abstract forms and patterns that appeared. This was
quite deliberate esp. in Celtic, for no human figures appeared (thus the
symbolism) for no-one could recreate the human form or create a perfect
piece of work, for to do so would be to insult the Gods/Goddesses for only
they could achieve perfection. If one looks closely at examples of ancient
Celtic works, small faults can be identified - these are quite deliberate,
but you'll need a lot of patience (and possibly a magnifying glass) to find
Sorry for rambling on. I cannot give you any solid references at present as
I am at work, but if you are interested I will dig them out for you.
[log in to unmask]
The Flying Turtle!

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