The use of interlace patterns had its origins in the artwork of the late Roman Empire.
Knot patterns first appeared in the third and fourth centuries AD and can be seen in Roman floor mosaics of that time. Interesting developments in the artistic use of interlaced knot patterns are found in Byzantine architecture and book illumination, Coptic art, Celtic art, Islamic art, Medieval Russian book illumination, Ethiopian art, and European architecture and book illumination.
Spirals, step patterns, and key patterns are dominant motifs in Celtic art before the Christian influence on the Celts, which began around 450 A.D.
These designs found their way into early Christian manuscripts and artwork with the addition of depictions from life, such as plants and animals even humans. In the beginning, the patterns were intricate interwoven cords, called plaits, which can also be found in other areas of Europe, such as Italy, in the 6th century.
Examples of plait work (a woven, unbroken cord design) predate knotwork designs in several cultures around the world, but the broken and reconnected plait work that is characteristic of true knotwork began in northern Italy and southern Gaul and spread to Ireland by the 7th century.
The style is most commonly associated with the Celtic lands.
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