Sunday, November 8, 2009

The meaning of the Swastika

I was looking through a group of birthday greeting cards from the early nineteen hundreds this morning. Lo and Behold there was a swastika prominently displayed in one corner of the card. This reminded me that the swastika originally had nothing to do with the Nazis but symbolised good luck:

Until the Nazis used this symbol, the swastika was used by many cultures throughout the past 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.

Even in the early twentieth century, the swastika was still a symbol with positive connotations. For instance, the swastika was a common decoration that often adorned cigarette cases, postcards, coins, and buildings. During World War I, the swastika could even be found on the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division and on the Finnish air force until after World War II."""

Originally the direction of the symbol whether clockwise or counterclockwise did not change the symbolism but later some cultures associated one direct with positive connotations and the other with negative:

""In ancient times, the direction of the swastika was interchangeable as can be seen on an ancient Chinese silk drawing.

Some cultures in the past had differentiated between the clockwise swastika and the counter-clockwise sauvastika. In these cultures the swastika symbolized health and life while the sauvastika took on a mystical meaning of bad-luck or misfortune. ""

The swastika is of very ancient origin:

W. G. V. Balchin says the word swastika is of Sanskrit origin and the symbol is one of good luck or a charm or a religious symbol (the last, among the Jains and Buddhists) that goes back to at least the Bronze Age. It appears in various parts of the ancient and modern world. This article mentions Christians did, indeed, consider the swastika for their symbol.

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