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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

36 37 The torc, or neckring, is the defining symbol of the Iron Age Celt. An open ring, usually made from twisted metal wires with two prominent terminal knobs, examples have been found in precious gold and silver as well as iron. Like gold and silver coins, torcs were a high status gift bestowed on the most worthy and skilled. Warriors often went into battle naked except for a torc around the neck. In coin art torcs are depicted in three main ways. Royal or divine beings wear one as a collar around their necks, reflecting their power and authority. Sometimes the torc is shown held in a hand with the open end facing outwards, probably a ritual gesture. More often the torc is independent, positioned in front of a horse and rider, surrounding the head like a halo or shown with suns and moons. The extravagance of materials and skill of design required to make a torc and the status of owning one must have almost inevitably led them to be considered as independent spiritual, magical and animate beings imbued with lifeforce. In coin art torcs become symbols of power, magical implements, celestial spirits, protective talismans, ithyphallic wriggling serpents. They are also the sacred enclosure, radiant halo, aura of power, sign of blessing and devotion. TORCS rings of power a. b. c. d. e. f. g.
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