By Nils E Friis have found Courtney Davis's comprehensive books, with their their focus upon all aspects of Celtic decorative designs, to be extremely fascinating. The books reveal the amazing patterns of the designs, loaded with spiritual energy, and bring Celtic history back to us in a modern and positive way for the present and next generations to come.
I first met Courtney more than 3 years ago. 1 myself, being a citizen of Norway, "the land of the Vikings", felt compelled to ask him if he might possibly be interested in applying his skiil to the powerful designs of viking Art. Frankly speaking, l have never come across any other artist that had been so seriousiy working on bringing out the beauty and mythological sophistication of Viking Art. The mainstream approach in published Viking books has always emphasized the violent nature of the Viking raids, beginning with the well-known raid against the British offshore monastery of Lindisfarne in 793. Such portrayals have left the Vikings with a reputation as pirates and plunderers. More recent studies, by contrast, present the Vikings as an important part of the European Heritage who have enriched the continent with a highly sophisticated legal system and skilled craftsmen and merchants, displaying their brilliant seamanship. The mythology of the Vikings has as weli been largely neglected.
The introduction of Christianity into the Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland across the years lOOO-l lOO ended the Viking age and era. Yet still, several hundred years later, the people continued to believe in elements of the old pagan religion, worshipping Nordic Viking Gods such as Odin, Thor, Frey and Njord. in fact, interest in the heathen legends of the Nordic Gods has never disappeared, and in recent decades we have seen a growing interest in this religion.
Popular films such as "The Lord of the Rings" have for instance adapted many ideas from the Norse myths. Furthermore, and much less widely known, many of our traditions in today's society have actually been passed on from the old Viking mythologies. For example, the Viking Gods gave names to the days of the week, and the Christmas tree symbolise the mythological tree Yggdrasii, which supports the Nine Worlds of the Norsemen. Considering the lasting impact of the Viking era, one dares to say that Scandinavia never ever again had such a broad impact on the European arena.
The Viking funeral tradition of burying their chieftain along with his ships and belongings, as well as famous literature sources like the well-known prose sagas "Snorre's Edda", gave archaeologists a fair starting point for categorizing the different Viking Art styles. Viking Art is remarkably decorative, and is found both as naturalistic as well as more abstract art. Its ornaments require a highly trained eye to be recognised and understood. Most Viking art was applied art, which is to say that it was used mostly for the decoration of objects that were used for practical purposes. Many will recognise similarities between Viking and Celtic designs, which is easily explained by the mutual influences resulting from the Viking settlements and strongholds that existed for several hundred years in many of the Northern British isles. For a large part of that time the vikings and Celtics co-existed peacefully and in close proximity to one another. Despite the deep similarities between Viking and Celtic art, however, we also recognise major differences. One of the major differences in style is the asymmetric and restless quality of Viking art, characterised by a seething mass of surface ornament of mostly stylised animals or, more correctly, zoomorphic designs. Contorted and distorted animals had formed the basis of Scandinavian art from the fifth century. This style persisted into and through the Viking age.
Nonetheless, while western influences certainly did not significantly change the Viking style, it is true that this tradition and its style was not immune from Celtic/European influences. The strong, confident style of the Vikings merely absorbed the new western motifs and adapted them to its own style conventions.
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