The Triskelion Collection
The triskelion (also triskeles or triskel) is an ancient symbol seen in Ireland, for example, carved in stone and believed to date back to Neolithic times. Derived from an ancient sun symbol, the Celtic triskel had various meanings for the early Pagans: it was linked to triadic gods and the three domains of land, sea and sky and was also believed to represent the cycles of life, as well as the Triple Goddess - the maiden, mother and wise woman. It should not be surprising, therefore, to note that the Manx Parliament consists of three divisions – the House of Keys, Legislative Council and Tynwald. Nor the fact that the ancient open-air Tynwald ceremony at St John’s used to occur to greet the rising sun on Midsummer’s Day. The three-legged symbol, which indicated rotary movement, was regarded as representing the three-spoked wheel of the sun god’s chariot as it crossed the sky.
The legs are usually seen to run clockwise and the symbol often appears with the Latin motto ‘Quocunque Jeceris Stabit,’ meaning ‘it will stand whichever way you throw it’ – a reference to the independence and resilience of the Manx people, who prefer the version ‘whichever way you throw me, I will stand!’
The four graphic artworks on our stamps are derived from: the three legs as they appear in Douglas Town Hall; the triskelion design used to celebrate the Millennium of Tynwald (the 1000th anniversary of our national parliament in 1979); a three legs stone carving observed on a building in Castletown and a modern design interpretation of the three legs of Man.
We are very grateful to Emma Cooke for her enthusiasm for the subject and her generous donation of images for the issue.