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Date: Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Subject: swastika file
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the symbol. For the town, see Swastika, Ontario.
The swastika in the decorative Hindu form.
The Administrative Office of Woljeongsa in South Korea.
The swastika was the official emblem of the Nazi Party, and is often used by modern Neo-Nazis.
Two swastikas on an ancient Greek Kantharos, Attica, ca. 780 BC. It is displayed at Staatliche
The swastika (Sanskrit: ????????) is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either
right-facing (?) form or its mirrored left-facing (?) form. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient India as well as Classical Antiquity. It remains widely used in Indian Religions, specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism and
Following a brief surge of popularity in Western culture, the swastika was adopted as a symbol of the
Nazi Party of Germany in 1920. After Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s, swastika was incorporated to the Nazi party flag, which was made the State Flag of Germany. As a result, the Swastika
became strongly associated with Nazism and related ideologies such as Fascism and White
Supremacism since the 1930s in the western world and is now largely stigmatized. It has notably
been outlawed in Germany if used as a symbol of Nazism. Many modern political extremists and
Neo-Nazi groups such as Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging and Russian National Unity use stylised
swastikas or similar symbols.
3 Origin hypotheses
4 Archaeological record
5 Historical use in the East
5.5 Other Asian traditions
6 Native American traditions
7 Historical use in the West
7.1.1 Greco-Roman antiquity
7.1.2 Celtic antiquity
7.1.3 Germanic antiquity
7.2 Pre-Christian Europe and folk culture
7.2.3 Sami 7.3 Medieval and early modern Europe
8 Western use in the early 20th century
9 As the symbol of Nazism
10 Post-WWII stigmatization in Western countries
10.2 European Union
10.3 Legislation in other European countries
10.4 Latin America
10.6 Satirical use
10.7 Controversies over Asian products
11 Contemporary use in Asia
11.1 South Asia
11.2 East Asia
11.3 Central Asia
12 New religious movements
14 External links
The word swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object,
and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck. It is composed of sumeaning "good, well" and asti "to be" svasti thus means "well-being." The suffix -ka either forms a
diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and svastika might thus be translated literally as "that
which is associated with well-being," corresponding to "lucky charm" or "thing that is auspicious." The word in this sense is first used in the Harivamsa. As noted by Monier-Williams in
his Sanskrit-English dictionary, according to Alexander Cunningham, its shape represents a monogram formed by interlacing of the letters of the auspicious words su-astí (svasti) written in Ashokan
The Sanskrit term has been in use in English since 1871, replacing gammadion (from Greek
?????????). Alternative historical English spellings of the Sanskrit word include suastika, swastica
Other names for the shape are:
crooked cross, hook cross or angled cross (Hebrew: ??? ???, German: Hakenkreuz).
cross cramponned, ~nnée, or ~nny, in heraldry, as each arm resembles a crampon or angle-iron
fylfot, chiefly in heraldry and architecture. The term is coined in the 19th century based on a
misunderstanding of a Renaissance manuscript. gammadion, tetragammadion (Greek: ??????????????), or cross gammadion (Latin: crux
gammata; French: croix gammée), as each arm resembles the Greek letter ? (gamma).
tetraskelion (Greek: ????????????), literally meaning "four legged", especially when composed of
four conjoined legs (compare triskelion (Greek: ??????????)).
The Tibetan swastika (?) is known as g-yung drung
The Buddhist sign has been standardised as a Chinese character ? (pinyin: wàn) and as such entered
various other East Asian languages such as Japanese where the symbol is called ?? (manji). The
swastika is included as part of the Chinese script in the form of the character "?" (pinyin: wàn) and
has Unicode encodings U+534D ? (left-facing) and U+5350 ? (right-facing). In Unicode 5.2, four
swastika symbols were added to the Tibetan block: U+0FD5 ? (right-facing), U+0FD6 ? (left-facing),
U+0FD7 ? (right-facing with dots) and U+0FD8 ? (left-facing with dots).
A right-facing swastika might be described as "clockwise" or "counter-clockwise".
Geometrically, the swastika can be regarded as an irregular icosagon or 20-sided polygon. The
proportions of the Nazi swastika were fixed based on a 5 × 5 diagonal grid.
Characteristic is the 90° rotational symmetry and chirality, hence the absence of reflectional symmetry, and the existence of two versions of swastikas that are each other's mirror image.
The mirror-image forms are often described as:
clockwise and anti-clockwise;
left-facing and right-facing;
left-hand and right-hand.
"Left-facing" and "right-facing" are used mostly consistently referring to the upper arm of an upright
swastika facing either to the viewer's left (?) or right (?). The other two descriptions are ambiguous
as it is unclear whether they refer to the arms as leading or being dragged or whether their bending is
viewed outward or inward. However, "clockwise" usually refers to the "right-facing" swastika. The
terms are used inconsistently (sometimes even by the same writer), which is confusing and may
obfuscate an important point, that the rotation of the swastika may have symbolic relevance, although little is known about this symbolic relevance. Less ambiguous terms might be "clockwisepointing" and "counterclockwise-pointing."
Nazi ensigns had a through and through image, so both versions were present, one on each side, but
the Nazi flag on land was right-facing on both sides and at a 45° rotation.
The name "sauwastika" is sometimes given to the left-facing form of the swastika (?).
 Origin hypotheses
The swastika is a repeating design, created by the edges of the reeds in a square basket-weave. Other
theories attempt to establish a connection via cultural diffusion or an explanation along the lines of
Carl Jung's collective unconscious.The genesis of the swastika symbol is often treated in conjunction with cross symbols in general,
such as the "sun wheel" of Bronze Age religion. Beyond its certain presence in the "proto-writing"
symbol systems emerging in the Neolithic, nothing certain is known about the symbol's origin.
There are nevertheless a number of speculative hypotheses. One hypothesis is that the sun wheel,
cross symbols and the swastika share a common origin in simply symbolizing the four seasons,
where the division for 90-degree sections correspond to the solstices and equinoxes. This carries
most significance in establishing a calendar that is seen to be more advanced than the lunar calendar
(symbolized by the lunar crescent common to Islam) where the seasons drift from calendar year to
calendar year. The luni-solar solution for correcting season drift was to intercalate an extra month in
certain years to restore the lunar cycle to the solar-season cycle. The Star of David is thought to
originate as a symbol of that calendar system, where the two overlapping triangles are seen to form a
partition of 12 sections around the perimeter with a 13th section in the middle, representing the 12
and sometimes 13 months to a year. As such, the Christian cross, Jewish hexagram star and the
Muslim crescent moon are seen to have their origins in different views regarding which calendar
system is preferred for marking holy days. Groups in higher latitudes experience the seasons more
strongly, offering more advantage to the calendar represented by the swastika/cross.
Carl Sagan in his book Comet (1985) reproduces Han period Chinese manuscript (the Book of Silk,
2nd century BC) that shows comet tail varieties: most are variations on simple comet tails, but the
last shows the comet nucleus with four bent arms extending from it, recalling a swastika. Sagan
suggests that in antiquity a comet could have approached so close to Earth that the jets of gas streaming from it, bent by the comet's rotation, became visible, leading to the adoption of the swastika as a
symbol across the world. Bob Kobres in Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse (1992) contends
that the swastika like comet on the Han Dynasty silk comet atlas was labeled a "long tailed pheasant
star" (Di-Xing) because of its resemblance to a bird's foot or track. Kobres goes on to suggest an
association of mythological birds and comets also outside China.
In Life's Other Secret (1999), Ian Stewart suggests the ubiquitous swastika pattern arises when
parallel waves of neural activity sweep across the visual cortex during states of altered consciousness, producing a swirling swastika-like image, due to the way quadrants in the field of vision are
mapped to opposite areas in the brain.
Alexander Cunningham suggested that the Buddhist use of the shape arose from a combination of
Brahmi characters abbreviating the words su astí.
 Archaeological record
The Samarra bowl, at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin.
Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the British Museum
Another early attestation is on a pottery bowl found at Samarra, dated to as early as 4000 BC. Joseph
Campbell in an essay on The Neolithic-Paleolithic Contrast cites an ornament on a Late Paleolithic
(10,000 BC) mammoth ivory bird figurine found near Kiev as the only known occurrence of such a
symbol predating the Neolithic.
The swastika appears only very rarely in the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia. It is found on
prehistoric pottery, of which the Samarra bowl is the oldest known example, and on a number of
early seal impressions, but then disappears from the record for the remainder of the Near Eastern
Bronze Age. In India, Bronze Age swastika symbols were found at Lothal and Harappa, on IndusValley seals.
Swastikas have also been found on pottery in archaeological digs in Africa, in the area of Kush and
on pottery at the Jebel Barkal temples, in Iron Age designs of the northern Caucasus (Koban
culture), and in Neolithic China in the Majiabang, Dawenkou and Xiaoheyan cultures. Other
Iron Age attestations of the swastika can be associated with Indo-European cultures such as the IndoIranians, Celts, Greeks, Macedonians and Germanic peoples and Slavs. The Tierwirbel (the German
for "animal whorl" or "whirl of animals") is a characteristic motive in Bronze Age Central Asia,
the Eurasian Steppe, and later also in Iron Age Scythian and European (Baltic and Germanic)
culture, showing rotational symmetric arrangement of an animal motive, often four birds' heads.
Even wider diffusion of this "Asiatic" theme has been proposed, to the Pacific and even North
America (especially Moundville).
 Historical use in the East
The swastika is a historical sacred symbol in Indian religions. It first appears in the archaeological
record here around 2500 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization. It rose to importance in Buddhism
during the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism with the decline of Buddhism in India during the Gupta
Empire. With the spread of Buddhism, the Buddhist swastika reached Tibet and China. The symbol
was also introduced to Balinese Hinduism by Hindu kings. The use of the swastika by the Bön faith
of Tibet, as well as later syncretic religions, such as Cao Dai of Vietnam and Falun Gong of China,
can also be traced to Buddhist influence.
Buddhism originated in the 5th century BCE and spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the
3rd century BCE (Maurya Empire).
The swastika symbol (right-hand) is alleged to have been stamped on Gautama
Buddha's chest by his initiates after his death. It is known as The Heart's Seal. The
swastika figures on the Pillars of Ashoka.
With the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism, the Buddhist swastika spread to Tibet and China.
Known as a "yung drung" in ancient Tibet, it was a graphical representation of eternity.
The paired swastika symbols are included, at least since the Liao Dynasty, as part of the Chinese
language, the symbolic sign for the character ? or ? (wàn in Mandarin, man in Korean, Cantonese
and Japanese, va.n in Vietnamese) meaning "all" or "eternality" (lit. myriad) and as ?, which is
seldom used. The swastika marks the beginning of many Buddhist scriptures. The swastika (in either
orientation) appears on the chest of some statues of Gautama Buddha and is often incised on the
soles of the feet of the Buddha in statuary.
Swastika on the doorstep of an apartment in Maharashtra, India
The swastika is one of the 108 symbols of Hindu deity Vishnu and represents the Sun's rays, upon
which life depends. Its use as a Sun symbol can first be seen in its representation of
the god Surya. The swastika is used in all Hindu yantras and religious
designs.Swastika is also considered as a symbolic representation of Ganesha, in Hinduism. Ganesha as per
Hindu rites is offered first offerings and as such in every pooja, at first Swastika is made with
Sindoor during any religious rites of Hindu.
Among the Hindus of Bengal, it is common to see the name "swastika" (Bengali: ???????? shostik)
applied to a slightly different symbol, which has the same significance as the common swastika, and
both symbols are used as auspicious signs. This symbol looks something like a stick figure of a
Jainism gives even more prominence to the swastika than does Hinduism. It is a symbol of the
seventh Jina (Saint), the Tirthankara Suparsva. In the Svetambar (Devanagari: ??????????) Jain
tradition, it is also one of the symbols of the ashta-mangalas. It is considered to be one of the 24
auspicious marks and the emblem of the seventh arhat of the present age. All Jain
temples and holy books must contain the swastika and ceremonies typically begin and end with
creating a swastika mark several times with rice around the altar.
Jains use rice to make a swastika (also known as "Saathiyo" or "Saathiya" in the state of Gujarat,
India) in front of statues in a temple. Jains then put an offering on this swastika, usually a ripe or
dried fruit, a sweet (Hindi: ?????, Mithai), or a coin or currency note.
Golden necklace of three Swastikas found in Marlik, Gilan Province Iran, dates back to first millennium B.C.
In Iran, Golden necklace of three Swastika in Marlik, Gilan province Iran, dates back to first millennium B.C probably symbolising Indian influence there.
 Other Asian traditions
During the Chinese Tang Dynasty, Empress Wu Zetian (684-704) decreed that the swastika would be
used as an alternative symbol of the Sun.
The Mandarin "wan" is a homophone for the number 10,000 and is commonly used to represent the
whole of Creation, e.g. 'the myriad things' in the Dao De Jing.
In Japan, the swastika is called manji. Since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a coat of arms by
various Japanese families such as Tsugaru clan, Hachisuka clan or around 60 clans that belong to
Tokugawa clan. On Japanese maps, a swastika (left-facing and horizontal) is used to mark the
location of a Buddhist temple. The right-facing manji is often referred to as the gyaku manji (??, lit.
"reverse manji") or migi manji (??, lit. "right manji") , and can also be called kagi ju-ji (literally
In Chinese and Japanese art, the swastika is often found as part of a repeating pattern. One common
pattern, called sayagata in Japanese, comprises left- and right-facing swastikas joined by lines.As the negative space between the lines has a distinctive shape, the sayagata pattern is sometimes
called the "key fret" motif in English.
 Native American traditions
Chilocco Indian Agricultural School basketball team in 1909
S.E.C.C. design from Oklahoma
The swastika shape was used by some Native Americans. It has been found in excavations of Mississippian-era sites in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. It is frequently used as a motif on objects
associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (S.E.C.C.). It was also widely used by many
southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo. Among various tribes, the swastika carried different
meanings. To the Hopi it represented the wandering Hopi clan; to the Navajo it was one symbol for a
whirling log (tsil no'oli), a sacred image representing a legend that was used in healing rituals (after
learning of the Nazi association, the Navajo discontinued use of the symbol). A brightly colored
First Nations saddle featuring swastika designs is on display at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in
A swastika shape is a symbol in the culture of the Kuna people of Kuna Yala, Panama. In Kuna
tradition, it symbolizes the octopus that created the world; its tentacles, pointing to the four cardinal
In February, 1925, the Kuna revolted vigorously against Panamanian suppression of their culture,
and assumed autonomy in 1930; the flag they adopted at that time is based on the swastika shape,
and remains the official flag of Kuna Yala. A number of variations on the flag have been used over
the years: red top and bottom bands instead of orange were previously used, and in 1942 a ring
(representing the traditional Kuna nose-ring) was added to the center of the flag to distance it from
the symbol of the Nazi party.
 Historical use in the West
In Bronze Age Europe, the "Sun cross" (a three- or four-armed hooked cross in a circle) appears
frequently, often interpreted as a solar symbol. Swastika shapes have been found on numerous
artifacts from Iron Age Europe (Greco-Roman, Illyrian, Etruscan, Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, Georgian
Bordjgali and Slavic). This prehistoric use seems to be reflected in the appearance of the symbol in
various folk cultures of Europe.
 Greco-Roman antiquity
Ancient Achean "doll" with human, solar and tetragammadion (swastika) symbols. Louvre Museum,
Greek helmet with swastika marks on the top part (circled), 350-325 BC from Taranto, found at
Herculanum. Cabinet des Médailles, Paris.
Etruscan pendant with swastika symbols, Bolsena, Italy, 700-650 BCE. Louvre Museum.
Hands of God, a symbol of early ethnic pre-Christian religions in central Europe
Ancient Greek architectural, clothing and coin designs are replete with single or interlinking swastika motifs. There are also found gold plate fibulae from the 8th century BC decorated with an
engraved swastika. Related symbols in classical Western architecture include the cross, the
three-legged triskele or triskelion and the rounded lauburu. The swastika symbol is also known in
these contexts by a number of names, especially gammadion.In Greco-Roman art and architecture, and in Romanesque and Gothic art in the West, isolated swastikas are relatively rare, and the swastika is more commonly found as a repeated element in a border or
tessellation. The swastika often represented perpetual motion, reflecting the design of a rotating
windmill or watermill. A meander of connected swastikas makes up the large band that surrounds the
Augustan Ara Pacis. A design of interlocking swastikas is one of several tessellations on the floor of
the cathedral of Amiens, France. A border of linked swastikas was a common Roman architectural motif, and can be seen in more recent buildings as a neoclassical element. A swastika
border is one form of meander, and the individual swastikas in such a border are sometimes called
 Celtic antiquity
The bronze frontspiece of a ritual pre-Christian (c. 350-50 BC) shield found in the River Thames
near Battersea Bridge (hence "Battersea Shield") is embossed with 27 swastikas in bronze and red
enamel. An Ogham stone found in Anglish, Co Kerry (CIIC 141) was modified into an early
Christian gravestone, and was decorated with a cross pattée and two swastikas. At the Northern
edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire, there is a swastika-shaped pattern engraved in a stone known
as the Swastika Stone.
 Germanic antiquity
Main article: Swastika (Germanic Iron Age)
The swastika shape (also called a fylfot) appears on various Germanic Migration Period and Viking
Age artifacts, such as the 3rd century Værløse Fibula from Zealand, Denmark, the Gothic spearhead
from Brest-Litovsk, Russia, the 9th century Snoldelev Stone from Ramsø, Denmark, and numerous
Migration Period bracteates drawn left-facing or right-facing.
A comb with a Swastika found in Nydam Mose, Denmark
The pagan Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, England, contained numerous items bearing the
swastika, now housed in the collection of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword belt found at Bifrons in Kent, in a grave
of about the 6th century.
Hilda Ellis Davidson theorized that the swastika symbol was associated with Thor, possibly representing his hammer Mjolnir - symbolic of thunder - and possibly being connected to the Bronze Age
sun wheel. Davidson cites "many examples" of the swastika symbol from Anglo-Saxon graves of
the pagan period, with particular prominence on cremation urns from the cemeteries of East
Anglia. Some of the swastikas on the items, on display at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are depicted with such care and art that, according to Davidson, it must have
possessed special significance as a funerary symbol. The runic inscription on the 8th-century
Sæbø sword has been taken as evidence of the swastika as a symbol of Thor in Norse paganism.
 Pre-Christian Europe and folk culture
The swastika is one of the most common symbols used throughout Baltic art. In Latvian the symbol
is known as either Ugunskrusts, the "Fire cross" (rotating counter-clockwise), or Pe-rkonkrusts, the
"Thunder cross" (rotating clock-wise), and was mainly associated with Pe-rkons, the god of Thunder
and justice. It was also occasionally related to the Sun, as well as Dievs (the god of creation), Laima(the goddess of destiny and fate). The swastika is featured on many distaffs, dowry chests, cloths and
other items. It is most intricately developed in woven belts.
Swastika in Kruszwica, Poland
The swastika shape was also present in pre-Christian Slavic mythology. It was dedicated to the sun
god Svarog (Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian ??????) and called kolovrat,
(Slovenian kolovrat, Bosnian kolovrat, Croatian kolovrat, Polish ko?owrót, Belarusian ????????,
Russian and Ukrainian ?????????, Serbian ????????/kolovrat) or swarzyca. In early medieval Europe, the use of swastikas for decoration of pottery and other wares was most frequent in Slavic
lands. It first appears within the context of Slavic artefacts in the lower Danube region (modern
Wallachia and Moldavia) where early Slavs had contacts with Sarmatian peoples. This practice was
then not merely adopted, but "transformed into a new, distinct quality of the symbolic culture of the
For the Slavs the swastika is a magic sign manifesting the power and majesty of the sun and fire. It
was usually called "The wheel of Svarog." It was often used as an ornament decorating ritualistic
utensils of a cult cinerary urns with ashes of the dead. It was the symbol of
power (the swastika seen on the coins of Mieszko I) both lay and divine, because it was often placed
on altars in pagan temples.
At the start of the Renaissance, swastika ornaments disappeared from utensils but swastikas were
being used by Slavs. It became a popular ornament on Easter eggs and in wayside shrines in folk
culture. This ornament still existed in 1940-50.
An object very much like a hammer or a double axe is depicted among the magical symbols on the
drums of Sami shamans, used in their religious ceremonies before Christianity was established. The
name of the Sami thunder god was Horagalles, thought to be derived from "Old Man Thor" (Þórr
karl'). Sometimes on the drums, a male figure with a hammer-like object in either hand is shown, and
sometimes it is more like a cross with crooked ends, or a swastika.
 Medieval and early modern Europe
A mandala-like meditative image from the Kabbalistic work "Parashat Eliezer"
The swastika mark on the tower of Armenian fortress Ani (10th century AD)
In Christianity, the swastika is used as a hooked version of the Christian Cross, the symbol of
Christ's victory over death. Some Christian churches built in the Romanesque and Gothic eras are
decorated with swastikas, carrying over earlier Roman designs. Swastikas are prominently displayed
in a mosaic in the St. Sophia church of Kiev, Ukraine dating from the 12th century. They also appear
as a repeating ornamental motif on a tomb in the Basilica of St. Ambrose in Milan. A proposed direct
link between it and a swastika floor mosaic in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens, which was built
on top of a pagan site at Amiens, France in the 13th century, is considered unlikely. The stole worn
by a priest in the 1445 painting of the Seven Sacraments by Roger van der Weyden presents the
swastika form simply as one way of depicting the cross. Swastikas also appear on the vestments on
the effigy of Bishop William Edington (d. 1366) in Winchester Cathedral.
In the Polish First Republic the symbol of the swastika was also popular with the nobility. Accordingto chronicles, the Rus' prince Oleg, who in the 9th century attacked Constantinople, nailed his shield
(which had a large red swastika painted on it) to the city's gates. Several noble houses, e.g.
Boreyko, Borzym, and Radziechowski from Ruthenia, also had Swastikas as their coat of arms. The
family reached its greatness in the 14th and 15th centuries and its crest can be seen in many heraldry
books produced at that time. The Swastika was also a heraldic symbol, for example on the Boreyko
coat of arms, used by noblemen in Poland and Ukraine. In the 19th century the swastika was one of
the Russian empire's symbols; it was even placed in coins as a background to the Russian
An unusual swastika, composed of the Hebrew letters Aleph and Resh, appears in the 18th century
Kabbalistic work "Parashat Eliezer" by Rabbi Eliezer Fischl of Strizhov, a commentary on the
obscure ancient eschatological book "Karnayim", ascribed to Rabbi Aharon of Kardina. The symbol
is enclosed by a circle and surrounded by a cyclic hymn in Aramaic. The hymn, which refers explicitly to the power of the Sun, as well as the shape of the symbol, shows strong solar symbolism.
According to the book, this mandala-like symbol is meant to help a mystic to contemplate on the
cyclic nature and structure of the Universe. The letters are the initial and final characters of the
Hebrew word, ????, or "light".
Freemasons also gave the swastika symbol importance. In medieval Northern European Runic
Script, a counter-clockwise swastika denotes the letter 'G,' and could stand for the important Freemason terms God, Great Architect of the Universe, or Geometry.
 Western use in the early 20th century
Main article: Western use of the swastika in the early 20th century
The aviator Matilde Moisant (1878-1964) wearing a swastika medallion in 1912; the symbol was
popular as a good luck charm with early aviators
In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the
late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy and
associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans. He connected it with similar
shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a "significant religious
symbol of our remote ancestors", linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures. By the
early 20th century, it was used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and success.
The work of Schliemann soon became intertwined with the völkisch movements, for which the
swastika was a symbol of the "Aryan race", a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as
Alfred Rosenberg with a Nordic master race originating in northern Europe. Since its adoption by the
National Socialist German Worker's Party of Adolf Hitler, the swastika has been associated with
Nazism, fascism, racism (white supremacy), the Axis powers in World War II, and the Holocaust in
much of the West. The swastika remains a core symbol of Neo-Nazi groups, and is used regularly by
activist groups to signify their opinion of supposed Nazi-like behavior of organizations and individuals they oppose.
Carlsberg's Elephant Tower
The Benedictine choir school at Lambach Abbey, Upper Austria, which Hitler attended for several
months as a boy, had a swastika chiseled into the monastery portal and also the wall above the spring
grotto in the courtyard by 1868. Their origin was the personal coat of arms of Abbot Theoderich
Hagn of the monastery in Lambach, which bore a golden swastika with slanted points on a bluefield. The Lambach swastika is probably of Medieval origin. The Danish brewery company
Carlsberg Group used the swastika as a logo from the 19th Century until the middle of the 1930s
when it was discontinued because of association with the Nazi Party in neighbouring Germany.
However, the swastika carved on elephants at the entrance gates of the company's headquarters in
Copenhagen in 1901 can still be seen today.
The swastika is seen on binders of pre-Nazi era publications of works by Rudyard Kipling. Both left
and right orientations were used.
Eimskip (founded in 1914), a major import/export company in Iceland once used the swastika as
their company logo. Although they have since replaced their logo, the swastika remained on their old
headquarters, located in downtown Reykjavík. As tourism to the country grew, it often became a
subject of misunderstanding when foreign tourists targeted the building as a place of Nazi support
and antisemitism. When the Radisson SAS hotel franchise bought the building, the
company was banned from destroying the symbol since the building was on the list of historical sites
in Iceland. A compromise was made when the company was allowed to cover the symbol with the
numbers 1919 which was the year when the building was erected.
The Swastika Laundry was a laundry founded in 1912, located on Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, a
district of Dublin, Ireland. In the fifties Heinrich Böll came across a van belonging to the company
while he was staying in Ireland, leading to some awkward moments before he could realize the
company was older than Nazism and totally unrelated to it. The chimney of the boiler-house of the
laundry still stands, but the laundry has been redeveloped.
Variation of tursaansydän
In Finland the swastika was often used in traditional folk art products, as a decoration or magical
symbol on textiles and wood. Certain types of symbols which incorporated the swastika were used to
decorate wood; such symbols are called tursaansydän and mursunsydän in Finnish. Tursaansydän
was often used until 18th century, when it was mostly replaced by a simple swastika.
Logo of Lotta Svärd
The tursaansydän is used by scouts in some instances and a student organization. The village
of Tursa uses the tursaansydän as a kind of a certificate of authenticity of products made there.
Traditional textiles are still being made with swastikas as a part of traditional ornaments.
Present-day flag (from 1958) and its pole of the Training Air Wing with three swastikas
Suomen ilmavoimien esikunnan joukko-osastotunnus.svg Suomen ilmavoimien Lentosotakoulun
Present-day brigade marks of the Finnish Air Force staff and the Training Air Wing
The Finnish Air Force uses the swastika as an emblem, originally introduced in 1918. The swastika
was also used by the women's paramilitary organization Lotta Svärd, which was banned in 1944 in
accordance with the Moscow Armistice between Finland and the allied Soviet Union and Britain.
The President of Finland is the grand master of the Order of the White Rose. According to the proto-col, the president shall wear the Grand Cross of the White Rose with collar on formal occasions. The
original design of the collar, decorated with 9 swastikas, dates from 1918 by the artist Akseli GallenKallela. The Grand Cross with swastika collar has been awarded 41 times to foreign heads of state.
To avoid misunderstandings, the swastika decorations were replaced by fir crosses at the decision of
president Urho Kekkonen in 1963 after it became known that the President of France Charles De
Gaulle was uncomfortable with the swastika collar.
Grootkruis en ster vredesklasse van het Vrijheidskruis.jpg
with star of
the Order of
the Cross of
Also a design by Gallen-Kallela of 1918, the Cross of Liberty has a swastika pattern in its arms. The
Cross of Liberty is depicted in the upper left corner of the standard of the President of Finland.
However, in the flag is only the Cross of Liberty of 3rd Class and overall, the highest Finnish decoration is the Grand Cross of the White Rose with Collar, not the Grand Cross of the Cross of Liberty.
In the internal ranking the 1st class Mannerheim cross takes the second place after Grand Cross and
the 2nd class Mannerheim cross takes the fourth place. The 2nd classa Mannerheim cross could be
admitted to anyone regardless of the military rank and therefore it became the symbol of the common
national goal related to fieldmarshal (1933-) Mannerheim, the later marshal of Finland (1942-). The
same Cross of liberty with swastika is still seen in the coat of arms of Mikkeli which where the
mashal Mannerheim and the general headquarters situated on both the Winter war and Continuation
Coat of arms on the town of Mikkeli
In December 2007, a silver replica of the WWII Finnish air defences relief ring decorated with
swastika became available as a part of a charity campaign.
The original war-time idea was that the public swap their precious metal rings for the State air
defences relief ring, made of iron.
 As the symbol of Nazism
Since World War II, the swastika is often associated with the flag of Nazi Germany and the Nazi
Party in the Western world. Prior to this association, swastikas were used throughout the western
Plane of Ernst Udet used for aerobatic shows held during the 1936 Summer Olympics on display in
the Polish Aviation Museum
Further information: Nazi symbolism
In the wake of widespread popular usage, the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche
Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) formally adopted the swastika (in German: Hakenkreuz (hook-cross)) in
1920. This was used on the party's flag (right), badge, and armband. It had also been used unofficially by its predecessor, the German Workers Party, Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP).
In his 1925 work Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote that:
I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a redbackground, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite
proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.
When Hitler created a flag for the Nazi Party, he sought to incorporate both the swastika and "those
revered colors expressive of our homage to the glorious past and which once brought so much honor
to the German nation." (Red, white, and black were the colors of the flag of the old German Empire.)
He also stated: "As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. 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."
The swastika was also understood as "the symbol of the creating, acting life" (das Symbol des
schaffenden, wirkenden Lebens) and as "race emblem of Germanism" (Rasseabzeichen des
The use of the swastika was associated by Nazi theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural
descent of the German people. Following the Nordicist version of the Aryan invasion theory, the
Nazis claimed that the early Aryans of India, from whose Vedic tradition the swastika sprang, were
the prototypical white invaders. The concept of racial purity was an ideology central to Nazism,
though it is now considered unscientific. For Alfred Rosenberg, the Aryans of India were both a
model to be imitated and a warning of the dangers of the spiritual and racial "confusion" that, he
believed, arose from the close proximity of races. Thus, they saw fit to co-opt the sign as a symbol of
the Aryan master race. The use of the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race dates back to writings
of Emile Burnouf. Following many other writers, the German nationalist poet Guido von List believed it to be a uniquely Aryan symbol. Before the Nazis, the swastika was already in use as a
symbol of German völkisch nationalist movements (Völkische Bewegung). In Deutschland Erwache
(ISBN 0-912138-69-6), Ulric of England (sic) says:
[...] what inspired Hitler to use the swastika as a symbol for the NSDAP was its use by the Thule
Society (German: Thule-Gesellschaft) since there were many connections between them and the
DAP ... from 1919 until the summer of 1921 Hitler used the special Nationalsozialistische library of
Dr. Friedrich Krohn, a very active member of the Thule-Gesellschaft ... Dr. Krohn was also the
dentist from Sternberg who was named by Hitler in Mein Kampf as the designer of a flag very
similar to one that Hitler designed in 1920 ... during the summer of 1920, the first party flag was
shown at Lake Tegernsee ... these home-made ... early flags were not preserved, the Ortsgruppe
München (Munich Local Group) flag was generally regarded as the first flag of the Party.
José Manuel Erbez says:
The first time the swastika was used with an "Aryan" meaning was on December 25, 1907, when
the self-named Order of the New Templars, a secret society founded by [Adolf Joseph] Lanz von
Liebenfels, hoisted at Werfenstein Castle (Austria) a yellow flag with a swastika and four fleurs-delys.
However, Liebenfels was drawing on an already established use of the symbol. On March 14, 1933,
shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany, the NSDAP flag was hoisted alongside
Germany's national colors. It was adopted as the sole national flag on September 15, 1935 (see NaziGermany).
The swastika was used for badges and flags throughout Nazi Germany, particularly for government
and military organizations, but also for "popular" organizations such as the Reichsbund Deutsche
Jägerschaft (German Hunting Society).
While the DAP and the NSDAP had used both right-facing and left-facing swastikas, the right-facing
swastika was used consistently from 1920 onwards. However, Ralf Stelter notes that the swastika
flag used on land had a right-facing swastika on both sides, while the ensign (naval flag) had it
printed through so that a left-facing swastika would be seen when looking at the ensign with the
flagpole to the right.
Several variants are found:
a 45° black swastika on a white disc as in the NSDAP and national flags;
a 45° black swastika on a white lozenge (e.g., Hitler Youth);
a 45° black swastika with a white outline was painted on the tail of aircraft of the Luftwaffe;
a 45° black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a white disc (e.g., the German War
an upright black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a white disc (e.g., Personal
standard of Adolf Hitler in which a gold wreath encircles the swastika; the Schutzstaffel; and the
Reichsdienstflagge, in which a black circle encircles the swastika);
small gold, silver, black, or white 45° swastikas, often lying on or being held by an eagle, on many
badges and flags.
Divisional insignia of 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland
a swastika with curved outer arms forming a broken circle, as worn by the SS Nordland Division.
There were attempts to amalgamate Nazi and Hindu use of the swastika, notably by the French writer
Savitri Devi who declared Hitler an Avatar of Vishnu (see Nazi mysticism).
 Post-WWII stigmatization in Western countries
Because of its use by Nazi Germany, the swastika since the 1930s has been largely associated with
Nazism and white supremacy in most of the Western countries. As a result, all of its use, or its use as
a Nazi or hate symbol is prohibited in some jurisdictions. Because of the stigma attached to the
symbol, many buildings that have contained the symbol as decoration have had the symbol removed.
Steven Heller, of the School of Visual Arts, has argued that from the moment it was "misappropriated" by the Nazis, it became a mark and weapon of hate, and could not be redeemed.
Further information: Strafgesetzbuch § 86a
The German (and Austrian) postwar criminal code makes the public showing of the Hakenkreuz (the
swastika) and other Nazi symbols illegal and punishable, except for scholarly reasons. It is even
censored from the lithographs on boxes of model kits, and the decals that come in the box. Modellers
seeking an accurate rendition often have to either stencil on the marking, or purchase separate decals.It is also censored from the reprints of 1930s railway timetables published by the Reichsbahn. The
eagle remains, but appears to be holding a solid black circle between its talons. The swastikas on
Hindu and Jain temples are exempt, as religious symbols cannot be banned in Germany.
A German fashion company was investigated for using traditional British-made folded leather buttons after complaints that they resembled swastikas. In response, Esprit destroyed two hundred
A controversy was stirred by the decision of several police departments to begin inquiries against
anti-fascists. In late 2005 police raided the offices of the punk rock label and mail order store
"Nix Gut Records" and confiscated merchandise depicting crossed-out swastikas and fists smashing
swastikas. In 2006 the Stade police department started an inquiry against anti-fascist youths using a
placard depicting a person dumping a swastika into a trashcan. The placard was displayed in opposition to the campaign of right-wing nationalist parties for local elections.
On Friday, March 17, 2006, a member of the Bundestag, Claudia Roth reported herself to the German police for displaying a crossed-out swastika in multiple demonstrations against Neo-Nazis, and
subsequently got the Bundestag to suspend her immunity from prosecution. She intended to show the
absurdity of charging anti-fascists with using fascist symbols: "We don't need prosecution of nonviolent young people engaging against right-wing extremism." On March 15, 2007, the Federal
Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof) holding that the crossed-out symbols were "clearly
directed against a revival of national-socialist endeavors", thereby settling the dispute for the future.
 European Union
The European Union's Executive Commission proposed a European Union-wide anti-racism law in
2001, but European Union states failed to agree on the balance between prohibiting racism and
freedom of expression. An attempt to ban the swastika across the EU in early 2005 failed after
objections from the British Government and others. In early 2007, while Germany held the European
Union presidency, Berlin proposed that the European Union should follow German Criminal Law
and criminalize the denial of the Holocaust and the display of Nazi symbols including the swastika,
which is based on the Ban on the Symbols of Unconstitutional Organisations Act. This led to an
opposition campaign by Hindu groups across Europe against a ban on the swastika. They pointed out
that the swastika has been around for 5,000 years as a symbol of peace. The proposal to ban
the swastika was dropped by Berlin from the proposed European Union wide anti-racism laws on
January 29, 2007.
 Legislation in other European countries
In Hungary, it is a criminal misdemeanour to publicly display "totalitarian symbols", including the
swastika, the SS insignia and the Arrow Cross, punishable by fine. Display for academic, educational, artistic or journalistic reasons is allowed. Note that the communist symbols of hammer and
sickle and the red star are also regarded as a totalitarian symbols and have the same restriction by
Hungarian criminal law.
In Poland, public display of Nazi symbols, including the Nazi swastika, is a criminal of fence
punishable by up to eight years of imprisonment.
 Latin America The use of the swastika or any Nazi symbol, their manufacture, distribution or broadcasting, with
the intent to propagate Nazism is a crime in Brazil as dictated by article 20, paragraph 1, of federal
statute 7.716, passed in 1989. The penalty is a two to five years prison term and a fine.
The flag of the Kuna Yala autonomous territory of Panama is based on a swastika design. In 1942
a ring was added to the centre of the flag to differentiate it from the symbol of the Nazi party (this
version subsequently fell into disuse).
In 2010, Microsoft officially spoke out against the use of the swastika in the first-person shooter Call
of Duty: Black Ops. In Black Ops, players are allowed to customize their name tags to represent,
essentially, whatever they want. The swastika can be created and used, but Stephen Toulouse, director of Xbox Live policy and enforcement, stated that players with the symbol on their name tag will
be banned (if someone reports as inappropriate) from Xbox Live.
 Satirical use
A book featuring "120 Funny Swastika Cartoons" was published in 2008 by New York Cartoonist
Sam Gross. The author said he created the cartoons in response to excessive news coverage given to
swastika vandals, that his intent "...is to reduce the swastika to something humorous."
The powerful symbolism acquired by the swastika has often been used in graphic design and propaganda as a means of drawing Nazi comparisons; examples include the cover of Stuart Eizenstat's
2003 book Imperfect Justice, publicity materials for Constantin Costa-Gavras's 2002 film
Amen, and a billboard that was erected opposite the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, in
2004, which juxtaposed images of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse pictures with a swastika.
 Controversies over Asian products
In recent years, controversy has erupted when consumer goods bearing the symbol have been exported (often unintentionally) to North America.
When a ten-year-old boy in Lynbrook, New York bought a set of Pokémon cards imported from
Japan in 1999, his parents complained after finding that two of the cards contained the Manji symbol
which is the mirror image of the Nazi swastika. This also caused a lot of concern amongst fans from
Jewish communities. Nintendo of America announced that the cards would be discontinued, explaining that what was acceptable in one culture was not necessarily so in another; their action was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League who recognised that there was no intention to be offensive
but said that international commerce meant that "isolating [the Swastika] in Asia would just create
In 2002, Christmas crackers containing plastic toy pandas sporting swastikas were pulled from
shelves after complaints from consumers in Canada. The manufacturer, based in China, explained
the symbol was presented in a traditional sense and not as a reference to the Nazis, and apologized to
the customers for the cross-cultural mixup. In 2007, Spanish fashion chain Zara withdrew a
handbag from its stores after a customer in Britain complained swastikas were embroidered on it.
The bags were made by a supplier in India and inspired by commonly used Hindu symbols, whichinclude the swastika.
 Contemporary use in Asia
 South Asia
Jain - Five Coloured Flag
In the Indosphere (South Asia, Greater India), the swastika remains ubiquitous as a symbol of wealth
and good fortune. In India and Nepal, electoral ballot papers are stamped with a round swastika-like
pattern (to ensure that the accidental ink imprint on the other side of a folded ballot paper can be
correctly identified as such). Many businesses and other organisations, such as the Ahmedabad
Stock Exchange and the Nepal Chamber of Commerce, use the swastika in their logos. The red
swastika was suggested as an emblem of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in
India and Sri Lanka, but the idea was not implemented. Swastikas can be found practically
everywhere in Indian and Nepalese cities, on buses, buildings, auto-rickshaws, and clothing. Swastika continues to be prominently used in Hindus' religious ceremonies and temples, and is recognised
as a Hindu religious symbol rather than a Nazi symbol.
 East Asia
Swastikas are widely used in Buddhist temples in China, and the symbol is most commonly associated with Buddhism.
Japanese maps use the swastika symbol to denote a Buddhist temple. Hirosaki City in Aomori
Prefecture uses this symbol as official emblem.
In Korea and Taiwan, maps use the swastika symbol to denote a temple. The swastika is also a very
common sight at both rural and urban Buddhist Temples.
 Central Asia
In 2005, authorities in Tajikistan called for the widespread adoption of the swastika as a national
symbol. President Emomali Rahmonov declared the swastika an Aryan symbol and 2006 to be "the
year of Aryan culture," which would be a time to "study and popularize Aryan contributions to the
history of the world civilization, raise a new generation (of Tajiks) with the spirit of national selfdetermination, and develop deeper ties with other ethnicities and cultures."
 New religious movements
The seal of the Theosophical Society
Besides the use as a religious symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, which can be traced to
pre-modern traditions, the swastika is also used by a number of new religious movements established
in the modern period.
The Theosophical Society uses a swastika as part of its seal, along with an Aum, a hexagram, a
star of David, an Ankh and an Ouroboros. Unlike the much more recent Raëlian movement (see
below), the Theosophical Society symbol has been free from controversy, and the seal is still used.
The current seal also includes the text "There is no religion higher than truth."
The Raëlian Movement, who believe that Extra-Terrestrials originally created all life on earth, use
a symbol that is often the source of considerable controversy: an interlaced star of David and a
swastika. The Raelians state that the Star of David represents infinity in space whereas the swastika
represents infinity in time i.e. there being no beginning and no end in time, and everything beingcyclic. In 1991, the symbol was changed to remove the swastika, out of respect to the victims of
the Holocaust, but as of 2007 has been restored to its original form.
The Tantra-based new religious movement Ananda Marga (Devanagari: ????? ?????, meaning
Path of Bliss) uses a motif similar to the Raëlians, but in their case the apparent star of David is
defined as intersecting triangles with no specific reference to Jewish culture.
The Falun Gong qigong movement uses a symbol that features a large swastika surrounded by four
smaller (and rounded) ones, interspersed with yin-and-yang symbols. The usage is taken from traditional Chinese symbolism, and here alludes to a chakra-like portion of the esoteric human anatomy,
located in the stomach.
The Odinic Rite claims the fylfot as a holy symbol of Odinism, citing the pre-Christian Germanic
use of the symbol.
The Red Swastika Society (China)
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