The hunting creatures
of the forest were both feared and respected by early man. Their raw power,
cunning and courage were attributes much admired in the harsh environments
of the Celtic tribes. These animals were known to be unwavering in the
defense of their young and, in the case of canines, of their pack mates
- their families. Throughout history images of bears, wild cats, wolves
and hounds have represented the desirable qualities of strength, wisdom,
bravery, kinship and loyalty.
In the knotted Celtic style the embodiments of these traits are
ferocious beast forms. Considering these people's graceful accuracy
in rendering horses, bulls, and boars, we must assume that these
other beasts were intended to be enigmatic, rather than that they
were badly drawn. Usually non-specific, they seem blended to express
the essence of a powerful creature rather than representing any
one species. Perhaps their creators felt more recognizable images
might be too powerful, inviting the great hunters to come calling.