Circular Ogham Teeshirts Spotted: Significance?

Ermintruder

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#1
Recently in Glasgow I've seen a few young people wearing teeshirts with printed designs of what was (to me) an unfamiliar variation upon a recognisable ancient letterform system, the Ogham (the pre-runic fashion of stave writing.

Instead of what I was aware of ie Oghams in just a straight line, these designs were representationally circular. I've never seen this before, but an online search has brought up some rare contemporary designs for mainly small jewellry pieces, and a few semi-circular examples of this approach on early pre-medieval oval stones (again, new to me, this was a style I'd only seen engraved in runes).

Does anyone have any insights as to what these t-shirts may have been representing?(other than vague neo-Celtic ideographic artistic appropriation). Thoughts on cross-overs from year-wheels? (nb this WASN'T the design style I saw, the teeshirts were just a simple single hatched ring)

Anyway- I've lots more I'd like to discuss about Oghams. Please.
 

EnolaGaia

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#2
Can you post one or more images (photo(s); drawing(s); whatever) illustrating the Ogham-like designs you saw?
 

James_H

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#3
Hard to tell without pictures. Have you tried asking one of these youths where they got their shirt from?
 

maximus otter

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#4
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#5
I've seen a few t-shirts based on the ogham alphabet, but not familiar with the circular design. I wonder if the theme has been taken up by a band, or a streetwear brand - quite often it only takes one brand leader to come up with an idea before it echoes in all kinds of unrelated corners. Ogham's been seeing a bit of interest in the tattooing community too, I think - or maybe I'm just noticing it more than I used to.

I can see why ogham would appeal - the ability to dress yourself up in a private, but relatively easily translated, code might be kind of attractive
 

Ermintruder

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#6
Can you post one or more images (photo(s); drawing(s);
Ok, a flawed impressionist sketch....
2019-10-17 08.32.11.jpg

Have you tried asking one of these youths where they got their shirt from?
Not yet, but I might / will. Once was in the general street hurly-burly outside Glasgow Cale University, another time was in The Hydro (which is a 10,000+ seater flying saucer parked by the Clyde)


Definitely not. Looks like sheet music that's run in the rain

. I wonder if the theme has been taken up by a band, or a streetwear brand
I would say the two designs seemed very similar, and that it wasn't a bold/dark design (much more thin-lined than my sketch)

Ogham's been seeing a bit of interest in the tattooing community too,
If on skin, they would look to me rather like statement sutures/stitches.

the ability to dress yourself up in a private but relatively easily translated, code
To me, runes/kanjii/cyrillic/semaphore/ship signal flags/morse/BCD would all be more....pseudodecypherable, than oghams. But maybe that's the point- an unreadable sign, a silent shout.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#7
Ogham is always intriguing, though I understand there is no unique literature or mythology to discover. The inscriptions which survive are probably memorials and there are some scriptures in Old Irish.

I was always fascinated by the form of the letters which were inscribed both sides of an edge on a stick. The naming of the letters after various trees is picturesque and nicely "earthy." Ogham may be referenced in the woodland messages of As You Like It. :rup:
 
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EnolaGaia

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#8
AFAIK the only historical Ogham inscription with this sort of circular layout is the Buckquoy spindle whorl:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckquoy_spindle-whorl

This circular arrangement appears on modern Ogham-themed jewelry in the form of round pendants typically advertised using allusions to "Life" or "Circle of Life." Here's one I randomly snagged ...

images.jpeg
 

Ermintruder

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#10
A quick Google turned this up:
Ah, yes, that's very interesting, but totally-different from what I saw.

What you've got there's a Year Wheel, which appears to be a (semi-contemporary) blend of a variety of traditions/mythologies, as an adaptation of an Celtic Ogham year wheel (which the teeshirts I saw weren't, either).

And they also were NOT this design, either-

Shall keep looking for an online example that's actually representative of the designs I saw.
 

Frideswide

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#12
I'll have to keep an eye out.

The difficulty of finding one online makes it more likely it's regional or niche or something :)
 

Ghost In The Machine

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#13
Recently in Glasgow I've seen a few young people wearing teeshirts with printed designs of what was (to me) an unfamiliar variation upon a recognisable ancient letterform system, the Ogham (the pre-runic fashion of stave writing.

Instead of what I was aware of ie Oghams in just a straight line, these designs were representationally circular. I've never seen this before, but an online search has brought up some rare contemporary designs for mainly small jewellry pieces, and a few semi-circular examples of this approach on early pre-medieval oval stones (again, new to me, this was a style I'd only seen engraved in runes).

Does anyone have any insights as to what these t-shirts may have been representing?(other than vague neo-Celtic ideographic artistic appropriation). Thoughts on cross-overs from year-wheels? (nb this WASN'T the design style I saw, the teeshirts were just a simple single hatched ring)

Anyway- I've lots more I'd like to discuss about Oghams. Please.
Ooh yes, let's talk about oghams (although I have more than a passing acquaintance with them, I know more about runes...)

I just checked both the big druid orders - OBOD and BDO - and neither seem to have owt like this - like you, I'm more familiar with seeing them on a stave (in a line). Wondering if it's a circle of the year thing, as in some traditions, they're assigned to months of the year, or at least quarters of the calendar..?

Am only aware of them being written in a linear kind of way in the archaeology but I may well be wrong.

ETA: Am slowly trying to figure out correspondences between Anglo Saxon runes and ogham - for no real reason other than that I can. It's been slow going as stuff keeps getting in the way.
 

EnolaGaia

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#14
... like you, I'm more familiar with seeing them on a stave (in a line). Wondering if it's a circle of the year thing, as in some traditions, they're assigned to months of the year, or at least quarters of the calendar..?

Am only aware of them being written in a linear kind of way ...
Same here ... I've only ever seen Ogham inscriptions arranged linearly.

It appears to me the circular version is a modern spin on the visual layout, usually associated with an annual cycle motif (calendars, crop / tree progressions through the year), etc.). I have no idea whether this modern interpolation reflects anything known from the historical evidence. Some of the circular versions pretty clearly reflect modern (e.g., New Age-ish) themes.
 

Ghost In The Machine

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#15
Same here ... I've only ever seen Ogham inscriptions arranged linearly.

It appears to me the circular version is a modern spin on the visual layout, usually associated with an annual cycle motif (calendars, crop / tree progressions through the year), etc.). I have no idea whether this modern interpolation reflects anything known from the historical evidence. Some of the circular versions pretty clearly reflect modern (e.g., New Age-ish) themes.
Yes, cos the whole point of these very angular alphabets is they're easier to carve, I guess, and carving it in a circle might be harder...

But circular things are more pleasing to the eye. So, as you say, a modern thing, maybe?
 

Ermintruder

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#18
I have no idea whether this modern interpolation reflects anything known from the historical evidence
This is what I'd suspected ie it was merely a modern concoction.....but: surely this design below is headed for being ovoidly-circular? It is without an encircling ring, but it is inarguably a rounded 'straight line'.



wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballintaggart_Ogham_Stones
Ballintaggart Ogham Stones
is a collection of ogham stones forming a National Monumentlocated in County Kerry, Ireland

But circular t(t)hings are more pleasing to the eye
The brief general tangential hypothesis on circularity I'm about to expound has gnawed away at me for years, yet I find it self-evidently inescapable. As far as I know this is unreferenced anywhere, but: surely in ancient times, right up until the late medieval era when artistic architecture became standard....the only intrinsically circular objects that early sapient humanity would ever encounter can have been

  • The iris/pupil of the human eye
  • The solar & lunar sun/moon disks
  • (The areola around the nipple, especially female)
  • botanical / floral structures including certain fruits/berries
  • fairie (ie fungal) rings
  • certain rare perceptable kinegraphic phenomena (river whirlpools, wind systems or moved rotated points in eg dance or orbital recorded paths)
The corollary from this (and it's one which strikes me strongly as an enormous omission either in the collective understanding & analysis of human pictogrammatic history or my tiny appreciation thereof): surely the drawing of a circle and the 'invention' of the ultra-seminal mechanical wheel must have occurred simultaneously?

Where and when were the first two-dimensional graphic circles ever deliberately depicted? Beyond their own endogenuity, as conceptual representational...circles as a proxy for existence.
 

Ermintruder

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#20
Is it your hope this thread will become a general thread on Ogham issues, or ..
Yes, it is. My postulations upon the metasignificance of circles, and the paleographic representations thereof, is a tangent from that. Probably better for it either to be pruned & repotted, or cut and composted. Though, I do think it deserves a thought or thirty, battered along its shoreline.
 

Ghost In The Machine

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#21
This is what I'd suspected ie it was merely a modern concoction.....but: surely this design below is headed for being ovoidly-circular? It is without an encircling ring, but it is inarguably a rounded 'straight line'.



wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballintaggart_Ogham_Stones




The brief general tangential hypothesis on circularity I'm about to expound has gnawed away at me for years, yet I find it self-evidently inescapable. As far as I know this is unreferenced anywhere, but: surely in ancient times, right up until the late medieval era when artistic architecture became standard....the only intrinsically circular objects that early sapient humanity would ever encounter can have been

  • The iris/pupil of the human eye
  • The solar & lunar sun/moon disks
  • (The areola around the nipple, especially female)
  • botanical / floral structures including certain fruits/berries
  • fairie (ie fungal) rings
  • certain rare perceptable kinegraphic phenomena (river whirlpools, wind systems or moved rotated points in eg dance or orbital recorded paths)
The corollary from this (and it's one which strikes me strongly as an enormous omission either in the collective understanding & analysis of human pictogrammatic history or my tiny appreciation thereof): surely the drawing of a circle and the 'invention' of the ultra-seminal mechanical wheel must have occurred simultaneously?

Where and when were the first two-dimensional graphic circles ever deliberately depicted? Beyond their own endogenuity, as conceptual representational...circles as a proxy for existence.
Wow, that is fascinating. Great post!

I'm a gonna go away and think then come back and reply but just wanted to say thanks - love this stuff!
 

Ghost In The Machine

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#22
Yes, it is. My postulations upon the metasignificance of circles, and the paleographic representations thereof, is a tangent from that. Probably better for it either to be pruned & repotted, or cut and composted. Though, I do think it deserves a thought or thirty, battered along its shoreline.
One quick thought though - spindle whorls. Go back... how far? That's a fundamental thing - to make fibres into yarn into cloth so you're no longer just wearing animal skins. Would they pre-date wheels on things?

I've been collecting them for years - mainly other folks' fieldwalking/detectorists' finds. Never been lucky enough to find one myself. I know nalbinded textiles (ie: made from yarn) have been found in a Stone Age context... My dream is to find one with runes on. Often, where I have seen ones with runes etc carved on (dunno if any extant with oghams?) ... I wonder if it isn't part of working intent into what they were doing - as it turns (usually, but not always, clockwise)...?
 

EnolaGaia

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#23
This is what I'd suspected ie it was merely a modern concoction.....but: surely this design below is headed for being ovoidly-circular? It is without an encircling ring, but it is inarguably a rounded 'straight line'.
wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballintaggart_Ogham_Stones
I'm not sure the Ballintaggart stones represent the same sort of abstract or thematic circularity to which you originally alluded (in the graphic design seen on the tee shirt and similar graphically depicted circles / loops others have cited).

The stones are of a similar ovoid shape (all being water-rounded boulders). They represent a set of similar-shaped objects, each of which is presumed to have been originally used for the same or very similar purpose (as an individual marker). Insofar as the inscriptions seem to consistently identify individuals, they are commonly presumed to be commemorative or grave markers.

Their current location and positioning in a circular pattern within an enclosure is the result of relatively modern placement, because they weren't all originally discovered (in recent times) in the location(s) where they currently lie.

These stones are not all inscribed. Those that are inscribed present linear inscriptions of varying lengths. The shorter inscriptions seem to be entirely contained along a single side of the stone (one of the long sides, rather than the rounded end).

My point(s) would be:

- the rounded oblong form of the stones represents a choice of common form for multiple tangible objects employed for the same purpose

- their roundness may be incidental to other criteria under which they were chosen (heft; permanence; portability)

- the wrapping of the longer / longest inscriptions around a stone is a result of extending an essentially linear series of glyphs along a continuous surface rather than any intention to convey a circular theme or concept.

http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/kerry/ballintaggart/ballintaggart.html
http://www.ancientireland.org/ballintaggart/
 

Ermintruder

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#24
the wrapping of the longer / longest inscriptions around a stone is a result of extending an essentially linear series of glyphs along a continuous surface rather than any intention to convey a circular theme or concept.
That's a very fair point- an adaptive inconsequential circuloid rather than a deliberate circularity.

Where and when were the first two-dimensional graphic circles ever deliberately depicted?
I was thinking of true disks, emulating the rare perfection of circles in nature...as opposed to your valid identified similarity..
One quick thought though - spindle whorls. Go back... how far?
Indeed. Just how old is the representation of a perfect circle, in art?


I wonder whether there was a deliberate reason for the circular ogham design, on those teeshirts: or was the shape inconsequential?
 

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#25
One quick thought though - spindle whorls. Go back... how far? That's a fundamental thing - to make fibres into yarn into cloth so you're no longer just wearing animal skins. Would they pre-date wheels on things?
They appear in the neolithic of various areas. And yes, pre-wheel.
 
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