Unusual Wedding Trend Keeps Ancient Irish Craft Alive

A 'handfasting' is a celtic marriage custom in which the hands of the marrying couple are tied together. A modern surge of interest in this marriage custom is now helping to keep a colourful ancient craft alive.
By: Niamh Trua
Jan. 23, 2011 - PRLog -- In a sleepy north Leitrim glen in the west of Ireland, a craft as ancient as the mythological tale of Cuchullain is being kept from the brink of extinction with a distinctly modern twist.

The colourful traditional crios, a beautiful woven woollen belt is an iconic reminder of Island life in Ireland. Until the 16th Century, both the men and women of Ireland wore the crios. It survived in everyday use on the Aran Islands until the 1980’s when the last vestiges of Irish peasant costume were replaced with modern garb. Crios weaving, like so many heritage crafts, started a drastic decline. Niamh Trua is one of the few remaining weavers to produce the crios, she has found a rather unique and growing market for her work: handfasting.

This old marriage custom, in which the couple have their hands tied together as a symbol of their union is seeing a revival of interest and is very much on the up. More and more newlyweds are opting for this traditional, colourful and very photogenic addition to their wedding ceremony.

And not just among the alternative set either, Catholic parish priests in rural Ireland are beginning to be asked to ‘tie the knot’ too. Indeed this Celtic custom is the origin of the phrase. After the 2m long crios is wrapped and tied around the couples joined hands, the union is declared, kisses, applause and photos follow and they slip out their hands with the knot remaining as a keepsake of a very special day.

In a handfasting, a couple are announcing and proclaiming in the presence of their community their joining together as husband and wife, and tying the knot is a wonderful physical manifestation of this, for all to see and enjoy. In the past in Scotland, in the eyes of the law, the couple were married after their handfasting, without the need for signatures or documentation. Handfasting, because it has never been claimed or standardised by any religion, is very flexible and can be adapted to suit the needs and beliefs of those who choose to use it. It can be religious or non-religious, depending upon the couple.

A traditional weaver, Niamh offers a bespoke service in which she will weave together the colours that have special meaning for the couple. She may be asked for colours symbolic of love, the masculine and feminine union, the favourite colours of the bride and groom, or perhaps the colours of their two national flags intertwined. A traditional Irish crios is a beautiful handfasting cord to use, one made especially for the purpose with colours of significance woven into it.

Niamh Trua has succeeded in turning a passion for craft into a modern internet-based livelihood, serving a worldwide client base. She also weaves the Crios into a number of contemporary designs and sells them in craft shops and online at http://www.niamhtrua.com  Niamh teaches workshops in peg-loom weaving and crochet, and demonstrates her craft at various festivals and events.

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About Niamh Trua: Niamh Trua is a weaver of the traditional crios, used as a handfasting cord in celtic marriage custom. She offers a bespoke service in which the couple have colours woven into their cord especially for them on their wedding day. Niamh brings her highest quality of energy and attention to her work, weaving best wishes and intentions into each piece for the couples lives together.
Tags:Handfasting, Cord, Wedding, Custom, Irish, Aran, Ceremony, Ritual, Celtic, Belt
Industry:Textile, Services, Arts
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Page Updated Last on: Mar 21, 2011

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