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v1.11 preface
v1.11 cover
v1.11 contents
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The Celtic Art Coracle volume 1 issue 11
Language of Ornament, continued
The difference lies in value. In a materialistic culture, we value that which serves a material function. In a traditional society, material function and symbolic function coincide.

So, to the first peoples of Europe, a standing stone often performed a function more than boundary or burial marker. Symbolically,  it localized the sacred centre of the universe, the axis of the world, a direct connection with heaven.

The dressing of the stone was often kept to a minimum, abraded where necessary, then decorated. This decoration was functional. It enhanced the stone to become the cosmic axis which it symbolized. The well-being of the surrounding earth and its inhabitants depended upon the functioning of this sacred stone.

There is a story of a group of Bushmen who walked from place to place carrying a sacred pole. They believed that this pole was the same one the Creator had come down to create the world, and by which had returned to heaven. This pole was the most sacred possession of this people, the axis of their world, connected to their very identity.

The function of pole was quite non-material, yet so necessary that when at last it disintegrated, the whole tribe lay down to await death. There was nothing else for them to live for.

A similar function was performed by the standing stones of ancient Europe, and this transformation of a stone into symbol necessary to survival was made effective by the application of ornament.

 

The Celtic Art Coracle Vol 1
Contents Coracle Press 1983
ISSN 0828-8321 
All Rights Reserved
10.02.01edition
coracle@thecoracle.tripod.com

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