Celtic tattoos stem from designs used by the Celts, a diverse group of tribal societies that lived in the Iron Age of Europe - typically from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England and Scandinavian countries. Celtic tattoos are very ornamental, consisting of spiral motifs or complicated interlocking knots. Pure knot designs appear to have no beginning or end, symbolizing the repeated crossing of the spiritual and physical planes. Each knot pattern has a specific meaning. Other Celtic tattoo designs include animals, dragons, family crests, the tree of life, or other images. In these types of Celtic tattoo designs, the knot pattern may be ornamental to frame the illustration. The Celtic cross with a circle symbolizes the unity of four directions under the sun. Celtic tattoos are often done in black ink, but can also include color.
Celtic knot designs may seem decorative and appealing to the eye but are embedded with a rich history and deep symbolism. Often times they are comprised of a series of complex interwoven lines that make up mazes, spirals, and other patterns. Most of the Celtic designs seen today were adapted from the Irish book of Kells which displayed many of the rudimentary patterns that tattoo artists build off of today. The ideology behind Celtic knots is not only to represent eternal life and resurrection but also to represent the complexity of nature. Many Celtic knots are associated with the continuous changing of the seasons and the process of life and death. This style of tattooing is very versatile and can be combined with religious references or other designs or patterns. Something that is very beneficial about Celtic knot tattoos is that they are a great first time tattoo, can be virtually any size on any body part, and can range from a simple piece to an armband like design.