Q&A: The Question of Transmission
well, this is fun. As soon as the boys are asleep, I come out in the kitchen and take my
"knot-bag" off the refrigerator and "vege-out" on some dots. It's very
soothing. I've practiced everything. As I work on a new step, it's very pleasant.
... As I black in around the braids, I keep wondering if this technique was handed down to
us in an unbroken chain from the original artisans, or if one of them had the foresight to
write down the steps. Or did the artform die out, to be discovered later by someone clever
enough to discern the gridwork and so on?
the technique of knot design does not depend on a chain of teachers. it is preserved in
works of art such as the Book of Kells, which is full of the greatest examples of Celtic knots. Every Celtic artist should
have a copy. I recommend the inexpensive paperback edition, The Book of Kells, by
Peter Brown, (Knopf, N.Y., 1980), as a workhorse reference book, and the fuller edition by
Françoise Henry (Thames and Hudson, London, 1974). But the
knowledge of the proper method did die out, until research began again in
the 1800's, pioneered cheifly by J. Romilly Allen and , in the mid 1900's
George Bain, and really only emerged fully during the 1970's, from
several, independent sources, the best known of which is perhaps Carl
Nordenfalk's Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting, 1977.
Two Knots by M. of Vermont
Fig. 92: Solomon's Knot
Fig. 93: The Basic Knot
The basic knot can also be described as
a Square Triquetra, a three- cornered knot in a square box