Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 24

Thread: Were the Picts really painted?

  1. #1
    Member chuckster's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    USA, Missouri
    Posts
    561

    Default Were the Picts really painted?

    Everyone who is familiar with Pictish or Celtic history is aware of the tradition of Pictish warriors decorating their bodies with paint, scarification, or tatoos. Roman accounts of the Picts support these stories, but did the Romans really know what they were talking about? If you watch Braveheart or King Arthur, you see Celtic or Scottish warriors painting themselves blue before a battle, which I presume the scriptwriter believes is a throwback to Pictish tradition. I have seen beautiful works of art showing painted and tatooed Pictish men and even women with beautiful patterns of spirals and sacred animals on their bodies. While this is the artist's account of how he/she thinks the Picts may have looked, I see no evidence he/she really knew for sure what they looked like. I have not been able to find any reliable accounts of what the Picts actually did to decorate their bodies, if anything. Are there any believable accounts of the Picts decorating their bodies, or is this simply another of the series of mysteries about these people?

    P.S. I hope this is an appropriate place to ask this question. If not, pls let me know and I will gladly apologize.

  2. #2
    Banned user Kitsune's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    In the Garden of my Turbulence
    Posts
    3,609

    Default

    There is not that much known about the Picts that is certain, chuckster. As you said, the word "Picti" originates from the Latin word for "painted". But otherwise not much is known, because the Picts died out before the year 800 AD. Even their language is lost.
    A fundamental question is for example wether the "Picti" were a Celtic people. Some historians believe this to be the case. Others dispute this. They point out that the "typical Pict" is described as small and wiry with a slighty darker skin tone. But "typical Celts" are usually tall (especially for the Romans) and fair skinned. Another point is that the Romans in their desciptions seem to differentiate between Celts or Gauls on the one hand and picts on the other. So they usually use sentences like "the Celts and the Picts did this and that" as if the Picts would be something different than Celts.
    So it could be that the Picts are a completely different people, possibly the remnants of the race that lived on the British islands before the Celts settled there.
    Wether they truly painted themselves? The Romans seem to claim that they would do this. And why not? To apply dyes to one skin is done in many cultures all over the world, (Indians, Africans, many Asians, Australian Aborigines...) so there is no reason why this should not be so.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NE Ohio
    Age
    57
    Posts
    164

    Default

    And the blue paint in "Braveheart" has nothing to do with Picts. Ancient Celtic warriors painted themselves blue.

    It is doubtful that it occurred in Scotland in the 1300s, but I guess its possible that some Highlanders did paint themselves IF they knew about the ancient traditional Celtic warfare from 1000 years (and more) before their own time.

  4. #4
    Banned user
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    319

    Default

    The paint was called woad. It had a disinfectant quality.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,859

    Default

    NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the middle ages, Scottish soldier fought like anyone else, and were armed and clothed in exactly the same way. We have contemporary illuminations and chronicles to prove it. No one was painted. Besides, "Picts" is the general Roman term for Scots north of Hadrian's wall, and by Robert the Bruce's time, they wouldn't have called themselves, or been called, Picts.

  6. #6
    Sapporo Snow Bunny budgie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Finally There
    Age
    41
    Posts
    6,570

    Default

    Ditto for the above on the middle ages. As for the paints - the only credible accounts from 2,000 years ago are those of the Romans so we might as well assume they were being straight.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,859

    Default

    I've even heard stories of patriotic Scottish Painted Warriors being turned away at "Battle of Bannockburn" reenactment events.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mastermind's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Nevada USA
    Posts
    6,307

    Default "Fierce Face"

    I am not faliliar with the term in the French language, but when France built their first real iron battle ships, they used a design system they called "Fierce Face"...that is, make the ship look mean and serious so as to put a fright into the enemy. This designe principle has been around since the beginning of human warfare, I would guess. I would think the attempt to "paint" a more frighteneing face and to "camoflage" more youthful and childlike features on a warrior's face would be practical and almost universal among warrior classes. I don't know if the Scots did this. But, I would really be surprised if they did not do it to some degree. If for no other reason than to inspire men with the reminders of their fierce heritage.

  9. #9
    Avoiding Asshats, Lying Low DeltaWhisky58's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Feeling The Hate®, Jockistan
    Posts
    14,478

    Default



    Woad is not a paint, it is a dye produced from the Woad plant Isatis tinctoria. Follow the link and read all about it, just don't believe the crap in movies like Braveheart.

    The Picts who used woad were in the very early days - by medieval times Scottish warriors were little different from those elsewhere, except perhaps the true Clansmen from the north and western highlands.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,859

    Default

    Some of you need an injection of common sense. Do you think your average Medieval Scotsman went around reading passages from Roman historians about his painted ancestors, assuming they were his ancestors? By the same token, French medieval soldiers should have anointed their hair with quicklime like their Gaulish ancestors.

  11. #11
    Banned user
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    319

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaWhisky58


    Woad is not a paint, it is a dye produced from the Woad plant Isatis tinctoria. Follow the link and read all about it, just don't believe the crap in movies like Braveheart.

    The Picts who used woad were in the very early days - by medieval times Scottish warriors were little different from those elsewhere, except perhaps the true Clansmen from the north and western highlands.
    Thats why the link referred to wode BODY PAINT.

  12. #12
    Member Captain Cabinet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Trapped in cabinets
    Age
    29
    Posts
    178

    Default

    Going slighty off topic... I heard that the Picts and Scots were two different races (maybe race isn't the right word), that the Scots came from Northern parts of Ireland, and pretty much took over what is know known as Scotland from the Picts. Is there any truth in this?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Count Lippe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Fürstentum Lippe
    Posts
    2,745

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AROUETLJ
    NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the middle ages, Scottish soldier fought like anyone else, and were armed and clothed in exactly the same way. We have contemporary illuminations and chronicles to prove it. No one was painted. Besides, "Picts" is the general Roman term for Scots north of Hadrian's wall, and by Robert the Bruce's time, they wouldn't have called themselves, or been called, Picts.
    I'm not an expert, but today's Scots were Irish and Wiking settlers. The naitive Picts must have either been killed, or assimilated. Kilts and other "traditionally scottish" things did not exist in the medieval times. They fought and wore the same clothes as everyone else.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,859

    Default

    Exactly! I didn't want to say it because I'd get a barrage of insults from Scots on the forum, but "Scottish Culture" is largely a 17th/18th century phenomenon. In the middle ages, Scots were culturally indistinguishable from Englishmen south of the Border. The Scottish Wars of the middle ages were a kingdom vs kingdom conflict, and not, as Hollywood tries to present them, an "Opressed People vs Evil Oppressor". It was only after the Reformation that a real cultural divide began to appear between the Catholic Scottish pretenders to the crown, and the Protestant British monarchy. I also think it is very unlikely that Sophie Marceau would have let William Wallace or Robert the Bruce shag her, but that is another story.

  15. #15
    Avoiding Asshats, Lying Low DeltaWhisky58's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Feeling The Hate®, Jockistan
    Posts
    14,478

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Cabinet
    Going slighty off topic... I heard that the Picts and Scots were two different races (maybe race isn't the right word), that the Scots came from Northern parts of Ireland, and pretty much took over what is know known as Scotland from the Picts. Is there any truth in this?
    Largely correct - Lowland Scotland in any case, but yes.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •