BODY PAINT OF ANCIENT BRITAIN
Who are the Woads and the Picts and did they paint themselves? It is highly contested whether they actually adorned themselves with blue paint, however the colour blue would have been achievable. As a native plant, the Woad can be used to produce blue dye, hence why Celts have been referred to as the Woads. Also another name given to northern Celt tribes was the Picts. Romans referred to Northern Britannia’s Celtic peoples as the ‘the Picts’ due to their tattooed bodies. It’s possible the Woad plant was used to paint the body before battles – but most likely it seems tattooing had become a custom amongst the tribes. They adorned themselves with symbols, local plants, and colours which would be specific to individual tribes.
It is thought that the Picts painted/tattooed themselves to look like fearsome warriors and to intimidate rival tribes. A book by Celtic historian Elizabeth Sutherland suggests: ‘The primary reason for tattooing was probably to distinguish one tribal group from another in battle, the skin was pricked by bone or iron pins and rubbed with soot or herbal dyes to give it colour’.
My painting is inspired by the illustrations of the Picts – an ancient warrior woman adorned with symbols and native plants.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
“I have created a blog to record my findings through researching tribal traditions of many cultures and how body painting has developed and exists in our society today, from the fashion industry to fine art photography.LIZZIERIGBY.CO.UK
Through exploring ancient ceremonies and incredible artists I hope to gain knowledge and understanding as well as inspiration to apply to Cabasa’s ongoing body painting project."