Celtic Warlord III century BC.
The military tradition of the Celts lasted 3,000 years, 2,000 years longer than the Roman tradition and 2,500 years more than that of the Medieval Knights. War was a focal element in the culture of this martial population whose warriors used to fight with pride, charging the enemy in close combat with blades in their hands. This pride was revealed in the ornaments on their weapons and armour as well as on their bodies. It is believed that bands of Celts went into battle totally naked. Caesar reports that Britons painted their bodies. Furthermore, it seems that the word Britains derives from the Celtic "Pretani" which means people who paint themselves, which also gave the name Britain to the territory where this people lived. Nakedness, together with the signs painted on the body assumed a magic meaning as an expression of natural power.
The figurine represents a warlord with painted arms and chest. The shield which almost entirely covers his body is of a type that influenced the Romans; the dagger, the sword and the superbly decorated scabbard could be associated with those belonging to a warrior of the La Tenč period. ‘La Tenč’, which means the shallows of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland, gives the name to the Celtic period ranging from the V to the I century B.C. Here the Celtic warriors offered their swords and other weapons to the Divinities.
Between the years 1906 and 1917 many of these objects were found alongside human skeletons, inducing one to think that Celtic Gods required human sacrifices. It has to be remembered that woods, lakes and rivers were considered places with a Divine presence.
Painting is left to the artist’s own imagination based on the colours shown in the attached photo, or by observing the pictures shown in history books available on the market. Celtic warriors were barbarians who did not follow a specific dress code. Apart from fighting naked they used to wear animal hides, colourful trousers and cloaks. Necklaces and body ornaments could be painted in bronze. The bronze helmet is Italic from III century B.C., exhibited at the Archaeological Museum in Florence.
Historical research and translation: Riccardo Carrabino
Sculpted by Gianni La Rocca
Painted by Danilo Cartacci
- Leonini Vanessa, La civiltŕ dei Celti, Editoriale Zeus, La Spezia, 2000;
- Newark Tim & McBride Angus, Ancient Celts, Concord Publications Co., Hong Kong, 1988.