What does a solid armband tattoo on the right forearm mean in Celtic tribal culture?


Quick Answer

There are no known solid armband tattoos in historical Celtic tribes. Documented Pictish tattoos are all of freestanding symbols, most of which are representations of animals. Celtic knot work dates from a later period and was not used in tattoo art until the modern resurgence.

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Full Answer

The Picts are the Celtic group known historically for being tattooed. The word "Pict" comes from the Latin "pictii," or "the Painted Ones," as they were described by Romans. Animals were the chief subject portrayed and the tattoos are believed to have been totem marks.

Celtic knot work, popular in modern tattoos of a "Celtic Tribal" style, were never recorded in historical use. However, knot work appears ubiquitously in other Celtic art, and the unbroken line symbolises the circle of life and death, the rotation of night into day, the wheel of the year and the unbroken march of the seasons. This is consistent with Celtic pagan beliefs. Three pointed knot work shapes represent the three faces of the pagan Celtic goddess in Her aspects as the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone, and after the spread of Christianity was appropriated to represent the Christian Holy Trinity.

There is no known historical significance in the placement of the tattoo on the body.

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