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The Four Orders of the World

The idea behind replicating this set of stone carvings was to pay tribute to the Picts, who inhabited Scotland before the Scots arrived from Ireland. They left us no writing, but expressed their world view in other ways.

The images are called by their scientific names at the request of the archaeologist who presented them to me for publication. I realized them as a single linoleum block print in a limited edition of 250 copies. I now have printed the last of the edition. Success! Lots of supporters have this piece in their homes.

At the top, the head of the piece, is the Geomorphic knotwork. It is the abstraction of the world, shown as circular, with the four corners indicated. It is (by far) the most popular style of Celtic knotwork, representing the inter-related complexity and connectivity of the world.

People are represented by the Anthropomorphic ornament, probably showing the idea of a rite-of-passage dance of youths. Locking legs and arms in a circular dance (most likely consisting of a large number of initiates) would require practice, coordination, cooperation and strength.

Animals are shown next by the Zoömorphic ornament. Wonderful lizard-like creations hint at the vast panorama of animal life that is crucial to the well-being of humankind.

At the bottom, the base of living earth, are the Plants, the Vine-scroll ornament. The idea of the vine is scroll-like, linking the plant to all living things.

The four orders of the world, each semi-independent, yet intrinsically related, reveal a culture that was independent, relying on the inclusivity of its members. Many on-line texts well worth reading describe the interactions of the Picts and the Scots. Some suggest Macbeth vs Duncan as the borderline.

I used Amazon green printer’s oil-based ink and Kozo paper from Japan. This paper allows the printmaker to see the ink entering the fibers, providing great control.

The ink was applied with a brayer. The raised border around the four images allows for even inking, but is outside the image area, and is not visible when the print is matted.

I spoon-rubbed each print with moderate pressure. The back looks faint, but even, but the front looks great!

The end of the edition means that I can focus on new projects. Hopefully these Celtic designs will sell out soon!

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