WIndow to the West: Culture and Environment in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd

Meg Bateman, John Purser

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This book asks whether there is anything distinctive about how the Gaels through the ages have looked at the world. The authors begin by considering how sight – and the lack of it – have been valued in Gaelic culture, how colour is represented in the language and how visual cues such as shape and pattern have generated Gaelic vocabulary. They investigate the stances embedded in Gaelic grammar and idiom and how these are made explicit in folklore, poetry and the thinking of Gaelic theologians. The recurrence of certain features is traced in the artefacts of the Gaels, in their buildings, metal-work, stone carving and manuscripts. These are seen to exhibit aesthetic trends towards abstraction, circularity, number symbolism, dynamism and interweaving – the same aesthetic that may be seen to underlie certain forms of poetry, dance and ceòl-mòr.
Can such structures be seen to relate to cultural attitudes expressed in the language? The authors believe that they can, and propose a tenacious ‘way of seeing’ among the Gaels, which shaped and in turn was shaped by fundamental perceptions of mankind’s position in the environment, of the shape of time, and of the relationship between the spirit and the material.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationIsle of Skye
PublisherClò Ostaig
Number of pages960
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 9780956261571
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020


  • Gaelic culture
  • Gaelic art
  • Gaelic philosophy
  • Gaelic music
  • 26ref2021


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