Celtic Studies Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

The CeltsCeltic Appearance:The Celts seem to have been a rather striking people, tall, fair skinned and with fair or reddish hair. They were very concerned with their appearance and took special care of their hair, which was usually worn fairly long. They were fond of jewellery and ornaments and the women probably used cosmetics; berry juice to dye their eyebrows and an herb called Ruam to redden their cheeks. Personal hygiene was not neglected; there are references to people washing and bathing, and using oils and sweet herbs to anoint their bodies after a bath.The Celts wore simple, colourful clothes using linen and woollen materials that they produced themselves. Men and women both wore tunics and long cloaks fastened with pins or brooches. Sometimes the men wore short knee-length trousers under their tunics as well. Shoes and sandals were made out of leather and tied with thongs. Jewellery was very popular and both men and women wore rings, bracelets and Torcs.All the evidence we have from the stories indicates that the Celts were particular about their appearance and washed frequently. It was expected that a host would offer visitors a bath; in fact it was probably very necessary if they had walked along muddy roads to reach him. Large wooden bath tubes were used and the water would have been heated by throwing in hot stones. If several people were waiting for a bath they would probably have to use the same water. Ash made by burning bracken and briars was made into cakes and used as soap.Political OrganizationCeltic Ireland was divided into about 150 tiny kingdoms called Tuatha and the people within each Tuatha were divided into four main groups, the king and his family, the nobles, the freemen, and the un-free men. Each Tuatha had its own king, who would lead his people into battle and represent the min peacetime, but he did not make the laws or act as a judge. The nobles were land-owning families and warriors, but druids, poets and some of the craftsmen also belonged to this group. The ordinary free men were mainly farmers, and beneath them were the un-free people, slaves and bondsmen. A number of Tuatha joined or allied together made up a local province, which was ruled by a greater king. There would be kings for different provinces but there was no high king, or king of all Ireland. (Some kings afterwards began to claim this title, but not until around the 8th century at the earliest).Slaves:Slaves were kept in some Celtic households, but they don't seem to have formed a large section of the population. They were mainly captives taken in battle and were probably kept as servants in noble households. They would have been given the heavy difficult work to do, ploughing, sowing and harrowing for the men and the domestic duties for the women, especially corn grinding with the quern.Slave chains have been found in excavations and there seems to have been some trade in slaves. The Irish term for a female slave was " Cumal" and her value was...

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