Celtic Art in the
Global Village, continued
Celtic art has been criticized for lack of
originality, in that it copied from other and older cultures alike. But Allen concludes
that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
"In conclusion, I wish to emphasize the
fact that the beauty and individuality of the ornamental designs found in early Christian
art in Great Britain are due chiefly to the great taste with which the different elements
are combined and the exquisite finish lavished upon them. I cannot see that it detracts
from the praise due to the originators of the style if it can be shown that the ideas
underlying many of the patterns were suggested by a pre-existing native style or adapted
from a foreign one. Interlaced-work, key-patterns, spirals, and zoomorphs are to be found
separately in the decorative art of many races and many periods, but nowhere and at no
time have these different elements been used in combination with such consummate skill, as
in the early Christian period in Great Britain and Ireland."
Maze patterns, spiral patterns and interlaced
patterns all can be shown to be based on the pre-existing native style of primitive
geometric pattern. Animal patterns from Scandinavia were added later, as a special sort of
knotwork pattern, and integrated into the existing repertoire. The outcome of this fusing
of many different traditions was a new art form, and one that found its greatest freedom
in abstract pattern, in contrast to the naturalism of mainstream Western art.