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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

46 47 Iron Age artists often use the image of the long arm to show the extent of power of some person. In coin art an elongated arm and enlarged hand signifies supernatural ability, so in 47e we see the figure of the goddess or priestess, half human half bird, with her right arm extending and transforming into a vine or fruiting branch. Similarly, in 47f the chariot drivers arm has become an apple branch, symbol of the otherworld and its power to heal and nourish. The image of Roman Hercules see 45m was also used by coin artists, who combined his hand and club into one extralong arm. Popular among the Celts because his image was identical with a native progenitor deity, he is echoed in the later benevolent, clubwielding characters such as the Irish Dagda, the Good God, and Bran the Blessed of Welsh tradition. His benevolence is indicated by the rain of coins that surround the figure, and his powerful fertility is often emphasised too. The creation of coinage required complex organisation. Only the most resourceful and wealthy of leaders could consider minting a run of coins. The raw metals or their ores had to be collected and the precise mix of alloys calculated to create the required colour, weight and value. Coins were sometimes cast in moulds, particularly those of bronze and potin tin alloy. Alternately, blank coin flans were placed within a hinged stamp containing obverse and reverse dies cut into a hard metal and struck with a hammer to impress the designs. Well into historical times blacksmithing was regarded as a mysterious and Otherworldly profession with shamanic overtones. THE LONG ARM power at a distance a. b. c. d. e. f.
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