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CELTIC-L  June 1997

CELTIC-L June 1997

Subject:

Re: Celtic subcultures (was: questions)

From:

Raimund Karl <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Mon, 16 Jun 1997 10:20:33 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (115 lines)

> Date:          Wed, 11 Jun 1997 18:20:55 +0000
> From:          Shae <[log in to unmask]>

> > Definitly. There are even enough major differences to allow for at
> > least three continental "sub-cultures". The British culture is
> > also definitly different enough from the continent ones to be split
> > of as a subculture on its own, and so is the Irish. And some of these
> > cultures once again can be split into subsubcultures.
>
> Ray, you can't just leave us wondering.  Can you expand on this?

Well, ok.

> I
> appreciate that there were Halstatt and La Tene cultures on
> continental Europe, but there have been only a small number
> of Halstatt artifacts found in Ireland, so you could ignore that
> aspect. Working from early La Tene onwards, did, for example, the
> continental Celts have a legal system similar to the Brehon Law system in
> Ireland? Art forms seem to differ too.  British and Irish Celtic art
> seems to have a lot more knots, key patterns, spirals, triskeles and
> zoomorphs than the continental equivalent.  Human forms are more
> commonly depicted on the continent than in Ireland, at least in
> pre-Christian Ireland, although there is a carving of what is
> thought to be Cernunnos on a 'cross' in Clonmacnois.

A good question. To start with, the perceived differences in material
culture between the Irish and the Continental "La Tene" period are
pronounced in some elements, but the development of Irish Celtic Art
can be traced directly from Early Continental Celtic Art. Definitly
there were also local influences, but the "typical" elements of it
are "Celtic" so to say. This means less the actual making of such
pieces, but more the way how a picture is constructed in Celtic Art,
both Continental and Irish. In both the basic construction principle
is to create a picture from abstract elements, which only together
make up the picture. That the details vary is true, but so they do on
the continent. French Celtic Art is, too, only basically similar to,
say, Eastern Austrian, also mainly through the construction principle
and not in detail. So, these differences in material culture are
definitly reason enough to split "Celtic culture" in some separate
subcultures.
Also, it is apparent that the Gaulish Celtic language and the Irish
language are relativly closely related. But the one is not a direct
development from the other, but a local variant that can look back to
a common ancestor with Gaulish (which maybe was spoken in Gaul in the
5th century BC, or maybe even earlier). Irish language also seems to
have it's deal of "local" influence. All in all, the differences are
strong enough to split of a q-Celtic "subculture" (a subculture of
common Celtic), and sometimes later an Old Irish sunculture of the
q-Celtic language family.
The same probably was true in the case of the lawsystem (where my
detailed examination of Welsh and Continental Celtic Law is still
missing in my Celtic Law series, I promise you that it'll come when I
find the time for it), where the "other" Celtic law we have in
written form, the Welsh law, even though this is severly influenced by
early Anglosaxon law already, definitly has a number of basic
similarities but is not the same as Irish law again. Old Celtic Law,
probably, also was constructed on similar principles, but most
probably was also not only an earlier form of Irish law, but differed
in a number of points which were local specifics. So we also can
postulate a local Irish "subculture" in the field of law.
These "subculture specifics" can be found in almost every field of
research, if you look at the evidence. Alltogether, we find a
pronounced difference between the Irish Celtic culture and the rest
of Celtic culture (which of course in itself is not homogenous as
well, similar differences exist between Welsh and northeastern
French, northeastern and middle French, middle French and middle
German, ... etc. Celtic cultures).
Now, why call them Celts at all, alltogether, if there are so
pronounced differences? Well, some scholars say that it would be
wiser to forget the label "Celtic" and start anew, with more regional
differences. John Collis, for instance, is one of them, and he argues
to drop the term Celtic alltogether, because it has become
meaningless, and too many misconceptions are transmitted with the
term already.
Other scholars disagree with this. They argue that, even though these
differences exist, a lot of similarities exist as well, and that
these similarities are also pronounced enough to group all those
people together. I personally agree with this second position, mainly
because of the reason that, however much the details between the diverse
Celtic subcultures differ, the basic principles of some things are
the same or at least extremely similar. So to say, the construction
principles of society stay the same everywhere in the area where those
peoples we have come to call "Celtic" lived. Art may be constructed
with different details, but the principle of construction stays the
same. The language may show certain differences, but the language
structure stays the same. The law may be adapted to fit local needs,
but the basic principles of social interaction as regulated in the
form of contracts by the Celtic laws appear everywhere. Religious
elements may vary between one or the other Celtic area, but many of
the basic comcepts, that in fact form the backbone of the religious
system, stay the same. And, last but not least, the mentality shown
by the various Celtic peoples all over Europe, though maybe differing
in detail, show a common basis as well. In my opinion it are these
basic construction principles of society that are the same between
all of those peoples which constitute their common "Celticness", and
which not only allows us but makes it in fact necessary to call them
by a common name (be it Celtic or any other term you'd prefer), as
these basic construction principles differ markedly from that of
other IE and other societies.

Hope this was understandable, and not even more confusing.

RAY
__________________________________________________________

RAY (Raimund Karl,University of Vienna,Dep.of Prehistory)
email: [log in to unmask] (or [log in to unmask])
homepage: http://unet.univie.ac.at/~a8700035/index.html
__________________________________________________________

                 The CELTIC-L Resources:
      http://unet.univie.ac.at/~a8700035/celtrese.html
__________________________________________________________

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