I’ve almost finished my first plaster mold for my first designed shaker. From this I hope to make some pieces to try decal on.
I find Museum gift shops constantly displaying art and craft by artists and craft people inspired by the things they have seen at those museums and The British Museum is no exception. Recently it has been in collaboration with the Craft Potters association to create ceramic pieces based upon some of the current exhibits and the permanent collection. In particular is the work of Linda Chew.
Based on Viking Long ship for the current Viking exhibition
pot based on the Egyptian Nebamun tomb paintings
For the current Viking exhibition show they’re also selling glass work based upon the Anglo-Saxon/Viking finds, glass blown by the Swedish company ‘Scanglass’:
Viking Claw glasses 6th century BC
Viking Bell Beaker 9th century AD
Viking Cone glasses, a common design of Viking drinking vessels
Viking drinking horns (the modern glass horn here based upon the ones found in Buckinghamshire dated 620 AD)
Interestingly, there aren’t many pieces dedicated to the Celtic art section at the museum – home to one of the biggest collections of Celtic artifacts in the world…
I’m finding myself more and more interested in the symbol/pattern of the maze in particular, especially within the direction I’m going with this cruet set. As stated, it’s unclear what the maze pattern actually means, but seeing that some are similar to an eye or seen as a path from this world to the otherworld, it seems to me almost like some sort of connection to the Gods and back again. To me the pattern almost looks like a brain – perhaps the connection to the otherworld and this one is suggested to be reached with the mind – perhaps that’s where the pattern suggests answers from the Gods about the future lie.
The Swastika has been an ancient symbol to many ancient cultures for thousands of years as well as an important symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism. In the Celtic tradition it’s believed to be a symbol connected to the sun and solar activities, also being labelled a ‘Sun cross’ (almost like a sun with rays coming out of it). It’s seen here on the Battersea shield and carved on stones in places such as Ilkley moor:
Celtic Wheels are seen as a symbol associated with the Celtic God of Thunder, Taranis. It’s also believed that the Celtic wheel is the inspiration for the later (different) sun cross and Celtic cross.
Celtic pottery which was used every day was usually rather dull and plain. It was for function rather than anything else. Sometimes you would get a bit more of an ornamental piece:
Sometimes a simple pattern etc. would be added but as most Celtic pots and ceramics go, they stayed rather plain. If a Cruet set was going to be made with god’s and offerings/rituals in mind, it would be more elaborate. Items such as the Battersea shield were labored over and made so elaborately to be thrown immediately into the rivers as offerings. A temporary shield wouldn’t be so elaborate. Just in the same way a ‘ritualistic’ cruet set wouldn’t be so plain.
The Triskelion pattern involves three conjoined spirals and seems significant not just to the Celts but also to pre-Celtic people. It’s unclear what the symbol means, but it has been adopted by many modern pagan groups to represent many triplicates in their cosmology and theology.
Carved maze, Rock Valley near Tintagel, Cornwall
The Maze pattern is usually a straight line spiral pattern and made using connected dots. Some contain eyes or a figure with horns and a snake around the waist which is believed to possibly be the Celtic god Cernunnos. It’s also been depicted as a snake itself and seems to be a development from the Neolithic and earlier swirls seen before. On the ancient symbol of mazes Anne Baring writes:
The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol whose convoluted form…. has always been highly suggestive to the imagination. Spirals and meanders , precursors to the labyrinth, have been found among the cave paintings of prehistoric peoples often incised on or near goddess figurines, carved animals, cave walls and thresholds. These labyrinthine spirals indicate the symbolic passageway from the visible realm of the human into the invisible dimension of the divine, retracting the journey souls pf the dead would have taken to reenter the womb of the mother on their way to rebirth.
A journey to the afterlife and back again is an idea that holds close to the one I’m exploring with “feeding the gods.” Perhaps it should be a connection between the two – not just an offering in the form of a cruet but (as seen in the Celtic spoons) a way of taking messages from them – a divination with salt and pepper (or at the very least a way to sprinkle it on your food).
I’ve stumbled upon something rather interesting in my research, coming across these items. I first came across these ‘spoons’ in “Celtic Art” by Ian Stead. being patterned as they were while being useless as functional spoons, believed them to have some ritual function:
Often found in pairs, one of which is pierced and the other marked with a cross.. Could they have been used for feeding the gods?
It got me thinking. Rather than just looking into Celtic patterns, perhaps creating a Cruet set for the gods is in order. There’s always been something that’s interested me in the supernatural and beliefs of other cultures and times – including any connection to the ‘Otherworld.’