Everyone knows that the swastika is a symbol of hatred and cruelty, synonymous with fascism that led to one of the most destructive wars humanity has ever witnessed. But did you know that before the Nazis used it, this symbol had a history dating back almost 12.000 years?
The swastika was an auspicious symbol with positive connotations that represented life, sun, power, strength, and good luck. The oldest swastika dating back 12.000 years was discovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine. Pottery and coins from ancient Troy dating back to 4.000 B.C. reveal that the swastika was a commonly used symbol. It had been used by Hindus and Buddhists in India and other Asian countries, who thought of it as an important symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and eternity. Moreover, artifacts that have been discovered indicate its use by the ancient Druids, the Celts, Nordic tribes as well as Native Americans.
The term swastika is of Sanskrit origin. According to Sanskrit scholar P. R. Sarkar its etymology reveals a deeper meaning: “su” means“good”, “asti” means “to be”, “ik” means “what will continue to exist” and “a” – denotes feminine gender. So, the word swastika means “good existence” while its deeper meaning was defined as “Permanent Victory”. Different cultures used it in different names. It was called “Wan” in China, “Manji” in Japan, “Fylfot” in England, “Hakenkreuz” in Germany and “Tetraskelion” or “Tetragammadion” in ancient Greece.
Depending on how it is drawn, the swastika can have a positive or a negative meaning. There is a difference between the right-facing swastika and the left-facing sauvastika. The swastika was the symbol of life and good health while the sauvastika symbolized misfortune. The double meaning of symbols was common in ancient cultures, e.g. in Hinduism, where the right-hand swastika is a symbol of the God Vishnu and the Sun, while the left-hand sauvastika is a symbol of Kali and Magic.
Due to its ancient Aryan/Indian origins, in the mid-nineteenth century German nationalists began to use the swastika as a representation of a long Germanic/Aryan history. For Hitler, the new flag had to be a symbol of struggle: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic“.
So, on August 7th 1920, at the Salzburg Congress, the red flag with a white circle and black swastika became the official emblem of the Nazi Party, transforming a symbol of life and fortune into one of the most hated symbols in human history.
The Swastika – A Symbol of good luck and prosperity
To help understand it, here we have thirty Facts About the Swastika.
- If we look at the Geometrical side of the Swastika, it can be regarded as an irregular icosagon or 20-sided polygon.
- The Swastika is considered a dynamic solar symbol, also representing the four elements; earth, air, fire and water.
- Apart of being a religious symbol, it was used as a decorative symbol in numerous cultures since at least the Neolithic period.
- The swastika is most commonly used as a charm to bring good fortune and positive energy depicted with the “arms” of the Swastika bent clockwise.
- It was adopted by the Nazi party in Germany and since then, has been a symbol that was connected to evil, genocide and war crimes.
- Nevertheless it is still used as a sacred religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.
- There are several names that refer to this symbol. In Germany it was most commonly referred to as hook cross, angled cross, crooked cross.
- The Swastika symbol is a widespread symbol in East Asian languages and is a standardized Chinese character.
- The right-hand Swastika is one of the one-hundred-and-eight symbols of the Hindu god Vishnu.
- some Ancient deities like Ganesha and Vishnu are depicted with the Swastika symbols drawn on the palm of their hand.
- It is said that if you have the Swastika symbol depicted on your hand you would live like a king, it is considered a very auspicious symbol.
- During World War I, the Swastika symbol was used on the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division.
- The swastika symbol was used by the Lotta Svärd; a women’s paramilitary organization from Finland.
- The Finnish air force uses the Swastika symbol as an emblem.
- Latvia also adopted the Swastika called the Ugunskrusts for its air force in 1918 up until 1940.
- In Buddhist tradition, the Swastika symbolizes the feet or footprints of the Buddha.
- Modern day Buddhists use it in clothing decoration.
- Archaeologists have debated about the exact origin and date of the Swastika symbols. Recent research has shown that the earliest known object with swastika-motifs is a bird from the tusk of a mammoth from the paleolithic settlement of Mezine,Ukraine which dates back between 10,000 and 12,000 BCE.
- It was a symbol of peace and prosperity for three thousand years until Nazi Germany adopted it changing the way its understood today.
- The Nazi swastika was created and designed by Friedrich Krohn, who was a member of the Germanen Order.
- The Swastika resembles the Greek cross symmetrically.
- The Swastika appears in numerous pieces of Byzantine art where it is referred to as the gammadion cross, or crux gammata.
- The Swastika symbol appeared on Greek pottery around 700 B.C., archaeologists estimate that it appeared earlier in Troy.
- The SAUVASTIKA which is the counter-clockwise symbol represented bad luck and misfortune in some cultures and was connected to the destructive goddess Kali.
- Native American Indians have used the Swastika symbol for hundreds of years.
- To the ancient Hopi of North America, the Swastika represents the wandering Hopi clan.
- The vinca culture is among the earliest cultures that utilized the swastika symbol.
- There is a hatha yoga sitting position which is known as the “Swatikasana”.
- In Asia, many business organizations use the Swastika symbol officially; for example the Ahmedabad Stock Exchange and the Nepal Chamber of Commerce use it.
- Among the Jainas, the Swastika symbol is the emblem of their seventh saint or Tirthankara.