The swastika (as a character 卐 or 卍) is an ancient religious icon
used in the Indian subcontinent,
East Asia and Southeast Asia, where
it has been and remains a sacred symbol of spiritual principles in
Buddhism and Jainism.
The name swastika comes from
स्वस्तिक), and denotes "conducive to well being or
auspicious". In Hinduism, the clockwise symbol is called
swastika symbolizing surya (sun), prosperity, and good luck, while the
counterclockwise symbol is called sauvastika symbolizing night or
tantric aspects of Kali. In Jainism, a swastika is the symbol for
Suparshvanatha – the 7th of 24 Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers and
saviours), while in
Buddhism it symbolizes the auspicious footprints
of the Buddha.
The swastika is an icon widely found in human history and the modern
world. It is alternatively known in various European languages
as the Hakenkreuz, gammadion, cross cramponnée, croix gammée,
fylfot, or tetraskelion, and in
Japan as the Manji. A swastika
generally takes the form of a rotationally symmetrical arrangement (a
wheel) with four equally spaced legs of identical length each bent at
90 degrees in a uniform direction to create a pattern akin to a
four-armed spiral. It is found in the archeological remains of
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia, as well as in early
Byzantine and Christian artwork.
The swastika was adopted by several organizations in pre–World War I
Europe and later, and most notably, by the
Nazi Party and
prior to World War II. It was used by the
Nazi Party to symbolize
German nationalistic pride, but to Jews and the enemies of Nazi
Germany, it became a symbol of antisemitism and terror. In many
Western countries, the swastika is viewed as a symbol of racial
supremacy and intimidation because of its association with
In the Western world, it was historically a symbol of auspiciousness
and good luck. In the 1930s, it became the main feature of Nazi
symbolism as an emblem of
Aryan race identity, and as a result, it has
become stigmatized in the West by association with ideas of racism,
hatred, and mass murder. The reverence for the swastika symbol
in some cultures, in contrast to the stigma in others, has led to
misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and mutual accusations.
1 Etymology and nomenclature
2.1 Written characters
3 Hypothesis of origin
5 Historical use
5.1.4 East Asia
5.3.3 Germanic Iron Age
5.3.6 Sami (Finland)
5.3.7 Medieval and early modern Europe
6 Early 20th century
220.127.116.11 Finnish military
6.2 North America
7.1 Use in Nazism
7.2 Use by anti-Nazis
World War II
World War II stigmatization
7.3.2 Legislation in other European countries
7.3.3 Attempt to ban in the European Union
7.3.4 Latin America
7.3.5 United States
8 Contemporary use
8.1.1 Central Asia
8.1.2 East and Southeast Asia
8.1.3 Indian subcontinent
8.1.4 Western misinterpretation of Asian use
8.2 New religious movements
9 See also
11 External links
Etymology and nomenclature
The word swastika has been in use in English since the 1870s,
replacing gammadion (from Greek γαμμάδιον). It is
alternatively spelled in contemporary texts as svastika, while in
the 19th- and early 20th-century, alternate spellings such as suastika
were occasionally used. It was derived from the
(Devanagari: स्वस्तिक), which is transliterated
svastika under the commonly used IAST transliteration system, but is
pronounced closer to "swastika" when letters are used with their
English values. The first attested use of the word swastika in a
European text is found in 1871 with the publications of Heinrich
Schliemann, who while crudely digging the
Hisarlik mound near the
Aegean Sea coast, for the lost history of
Troy (Trojan war),
discovered over 1,800 ancient samples of the swastika symbol and its
variants. Schliemann linked his findings to the Sanskrit
The word swastika is derived from the
Sanskrit root swasti which is
composed of su, meaning "good, well", and asti meaning "it is, there
is". The word swasti occurs frequently in the Vedas, and it means
"well, good, auspicious, luck, success, prosperity". Swastika
is a derived word and connotes a form of welcome or a sign of
something "associated with well-being". According to
Monier-Williams, a majority of scholars consider it a solar symbol,
and in the ancient Indian texts the base swasti is equivalent to "may
it be well with thee! hail! health! adieu! so be it!". The sign
implies something fortunate, lucky or auspicious, and when applied to
entrances, doors, mandalas or object it denotes or reminds of
auspiciousness or well-being.
The earliest known textual use of the word swastika is in Panini's
Ashtadhyayi, where it is used to explain one of the
rules, in the context of a type of identifying mark on cow's ear.
Most scholarship suggests Panini lived in or before mid 4th-century
BCE (floruit), possibly in 6th or 5th century BCE.
Other names for the symbol include:
hooked cross (German: Hakenkreuz), angled cross (Winkelkreuz) or
crooked cross (Krummkreuz).
cross cramponned, cramponnée, or cramponny, in heraldry, as each arm
resembles a Crampon or angle-iron (German: Winkelmaßkreuz).
fylfot, chiefly in heraldry and architecture.
gammadion, tetragammadion (Greek: τετραγαμμάδιον), or
cross gammadion (Latin: crux gammata; French: croix gammée), as each
arm resembles the Greek letter Γ (gamma).
tetraskelion (Greek: τετρασκέλιον), literally meaning
"four-legged", especially when composed of four conjoined legs
(compare triskelion/triskele [Greek: τρισκέλιον]).
whirling logs (Navajo, Native American): can denote abundance,
prosperity, healing, and luck.
Left: the left-facing swastika is a sacred symbol in the
Buddhist traditions. Right: the right-facing swastika appears commonly
Hinduism and Jainism.
Although all swastikas are bent crosses based on a chiral symmetry,
they appear with different geometric details: as compact crosses with
short legs, as crosses with large arms and as motifs in a pattern of
unbroken lines. One distinct representation of a swastika, as a double
swastika or swastika made of squares, appears in a Nepalese silver
mohar coin of 1685, kingdom of Patan (NS 805) KM# 337.
Chirality describes an absence of reflective symmetry, with the
existence of two versions that are mirror images of each other. The
mirror-image forms are typically described as:
left-facing (卍) and right-facing (卐);
left-hand (卍) and right-hand (卐).
The left-facing version is distinguished in some traditions and
languages as a distinct symbol from the right-facing "swastika", and
is more correctly called the "sauwastika".
The compact swastika can be seen as a chiral irregular icosagon
(20-sided polygon) with fourfold (90°) rotational symmetry. Such a
swastika proportioned on a 5 × 5 square grid and with the broken
portions of its legs shortened by one unit can tile the plane by
translation alone. The
Hakenkreuz used a 5 × 5 diagonal grid,
but with the legs unshortened.
Varieties of swastikas
Broken sun cross
Battersea Shield Thames swastika
The sauwastika were adopted as a standard character in Sanskrit. "卍"
(pinyin: wàn) and as such entered various other East Asian languages,
including Chinese script. In Japanese the symbol is called "卍"
(Hepburn: manji) or "卍字" (manji).
The sauwastika is included in the
Unicode character sets of two
languages. In the Chinese block it is U+534D 卍 (left-facing) and
U+5350 for the swastika 卐 (right-facing); The latter has a
mapping in the original
Big5 character set, but the former does
not (although it is in Big5+). In
Unicode 5.2, two swastika
symbols and two sauwastikas were added to the Tibetan block:
U+0FD5 ࿕ RIGHT-FACING SVASTI SIGN
U+0FD7 ࿗ RIGHT-FACING SVASTI SIGN WITH DOTS
U+0FD6 ࿖ LEFT-FACING SVASTI SIGN
U+0FD8 ࿘ LEFT-FACING SVASTI SIGN WITH DOTS.
Hypothesis of origin
A 3,200 year old swastika necklace excavated from Marlik, Gilan
province, northern Iran
The swastika is a repeating design, said to have been 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.
European hypotheses of the swastika are often treated in conjunction
with cross symbols in general, such as the sun cross of pagan Bronze
Age religion. Beyond its certain presence in the "proto-writing"
symbol systems, such as the Vinca script, which appeared during
the Neolithic, nothing certain is known about the symbol's origin.
Mosaic swastika in excavated Byzantine (?) church in Shavei Tzion
There are a number of speculative hypotheses. One hypothesis is that
the cross symbols and the swastika share a common origin in simply
symbolizing the sun. Another hypothesis is that the four arms of the
cross represent four aspects of nature - the sun, wind, water, soil.
Some have said the four arms of cross are four seasons, where the
division for 90-degree sections correspond to the solstices and
According to Reza Assasi, the swastika is a geometric pattern in the
sky representing the north ecliptic pole centred to Zeta Draconis. He
argues that this primitive astrological symbol was later called the
four-horse chariot of
Mithra in ancient
Iran and represented the
centre of Ecliptic in the star map and also demonstrates that in
Iranian mythology, the cosmos was believed to be pulled by four
heavenly horses revolving around a fixed centre on clockwise direction
possibly because of a geocentric understanding of an astronomical
phenomenon called axial precession. He suggests that this notion was
transmitted to the west and flourished in Roman mithraism in which
this symbol appears in Mithraic iconography and astrological
Detail of Astrology Manuscript, ink on silk, BCE 2th century, Han,
unearthed from Mawangdui tomb 3rd, Chansha, Hunan Province, China.
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 his 1992 paper Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse
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 footprint, the latter
comparison also being drawn by J.F.K. Hewitt's observation on page 145
of Primitive Traditional History: vol. 1. as well as an article
concerning carpet decoration in Good Housekeeping. Kobres goes on
to suggest an association of mythological birds and comets also
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
Samarra bowl, at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin. The swastika in the
center of the design is a reconstruction.
According to Mukti Jain, the symbol is part of "an intricate meander
pattern of joined up swastikas" found on a late paleolithic figurine
of a bird, carved from mammoth ivory, found in Mezine,
dated to 15,000 years old. These engraved objects were found near
phallic objects, which states Jain may support the idea that the
meandering pattern of swastika was a fertility symbol. However it
has also been suggested that this swastika may be a stylized picture
of a stork in flight and not the true swastika that is in use
In England, neolithic or Bronze Age stone carvings of the symbol have
been found on Ilkley Moor, such as the
Mirror-image swastikas (clockwise and anti-clockwise) have been found
on ceramic pottery in the Devetashka cave, Bulgaria, dated to
Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of the swastika in the
Indian subcontinent can be dated to 3,000 BCE. Investigators
have also found seals with "mature and geometrically ordered"
swatiskas which date from prior to the Indus Valley Civilisation
(3300–1300 BCE). Their efforts have traced references to swastikas
Vedas at about that time period. The investigators put forth
the theory that the swastika moved westward from
India to Finland,
Scandinavia, the British Highlands and other parts of Europe.
Swastikas have also been found on pottery in archaeological digs in
Africa, in the area of Kush and on pottery at the Jebel Barkal
Iron Age designs of the northern
culture), and in
Neolithic China in the Majiabang,Majiayao,
Dawenkou and Xiaoheyan cultures.
Iron Age attestations of the swastika can be associated with
Indo-European cultures such as the Illyrians, Indo-Iranians,
Germanic peoples and Slavs. In Sintashta culture's
"Country of Towns", ancient Indo-European settlements in southern
Russia, it has been found a great concentration of some of the oldest
swastika patterns. Chief archeologist
Gennady Zdanovich identifies the
swastika as a "symbol of the universe".
The swastika is also seen in Egypt during the Coptic period. Textile
number T.231-1923 held at the V&A Museum in London includes small
swastikas in its design. This piece was found at Qau-el-Kebir, near
Asyut, and is dated between AD 300 and 600.
The Tierwirbel (the German for "animal whorl" or "whirl of
animals") is a characteristic motif in Bronze Age Central Asia,
the Eurasian Steppe, and later also in
Scythian and European
(Baltic and Germanic) culture, showing rotational symmetric
arrangement of an animal motif, often four birds' heads. Even wider
diffusion of this "Asiatic" theme has been proposed, to the Pacific
and even North America (especially Moundville).
The petroglyph with swastikas, Gegham mountains, Armenia
Swastika seals from the
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the
The Victorian-era reproduction of the
Swastika Stone on Ilkley Moor,
which sits near the original to aid visitors in interpreting the
Swastikas stamped at a temple of Jainism.
In Asia, the swastika symbol first appears in the archaeological
record around 3000 BCE in the Indus Valley
Civilization. It also appears in the Bronze and Iron Age
cultures around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. In all these
cultures the swastika symbol does not appear to occupy any marked
position or significance, but appears as just one form of a series of
similar symbols of varying complexity. In the Zoroastrian religion of
Persia, the swastika was a symbol of the revolving sun, infinity, or
It is one of most common symbols found on Mesopotamian coins.
The icon has been of spiritual significance to Indian religions such
Buddhism and Jainism. The use of the swastika by
Bön faith of Tibet, as well as Chinese Taoism, can also be traced
to Buddhist influence. In Thailand, the word Sawaddi is normally used
as a greeting which simply means "hello"; Sawaddi-ka (feminine) and
Sawaddi-krup (masculine). Sawaddi derives from the
swasti and its meaning is a combination of the words prosperity, luck,
security, glory, and good.
The swastika is an important
Hindu symbol. The word is ancient,
derived from three
Sanskrit roots "su" (good), "asti" (exists, there
is, to be) and "ka" (make) and has meant a "making of goodness" or
"marker of goodness". The icon connotes and reminds the viewer of
something "conducive to well-being", "make good", prosperity and
dharmic auspiciousness. The swastika symbol is commonly used before
entrances or on doorways of homes or temples, to mark the starting
page of financial statements, and mandala constructed for rituals such
as weddings or welcoming a new born.
In the diverse traditions within Hinduism, both the clockwise and
counter-clockwise swastika are found, with different meaning. The
clockwise or right hand icon is called swastika, while the counter
clockwise or left hand is called sauvastika. The clockwise swastika
is a solar symbol (Surya), mirroring the motion of
northern hemisphere) where it appears to enter from east, then south,
exiting to the west. The counterclockwise sauvastika is less used,
connotes the night and in tantric traditions it is an icon for goddess
Kali, the terrifying form of
Devi Durga. The symbol also reminds
and symbolizes activity, karma, motion, wheel, lotus in some
contexts. Its symbolism for motion and sun may be from shared
prehistoric cultural roots, according to Norman McClelland.
The Arya Samaj is of the opinion that swastik is 'OM' written in the
ancient Brahmi script.
A swastika is typical in
Hindu temple entrance in Bali, Indonesia
Hindu temple in Rajasthan, India
In Buddhism, the swastika symbol is considered auspicious footprints
of the Buddha. It is an aniconic symbol for the
Buddha in many
Asia and a homologous with the dhamma wheel. The shape
symbolizes eternal cycling, a theme found in samsara doctrine of
The swastika symbol is common in esoteric tantric traditions of
Buddhism, along with Hinduism, where it is found with
and other meditative aids. The clockwise symbol is more common,
and contrasts with the counter clockwise version common in the Tibetan
Bon tradition and locally called yungdrung.
In Jainism, it is a symbol of the seventh tīrthaṅkara,
Suparśvanātha. In the
Śvētāmbara tradition, it is also one of
the aṣṭamaṅgala or eight auspicious symbols. 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 in front of
statues and then put an offering on it, usually a ripe or dried fruit,
a sweet (Hindi: मिठाई miṭhāī), or a coin or currency
note. The four arms of the swastika symbolize the four places where a
soul could be reborn in the cycle of birth and death – svarga
"heaven", naraka "hell", manushya "humanity" or tiryancha "as flora or
fauna" – before the soul attains moksha "salvation" as a siddha,
having ended the cycle of birth and death and become omniscient.
The paired swastika symbols are included, at least since the Liao
Dynasty (AD 907–1125), as part of the Chinese writing system (卍
and 卐) and are variant characters for 萬 or 万 (wàn in Mandarin,
man in Korean, Cantonese, and Japanese, vạn in Vietnamese) meaning
myriad and used to represent eternity. The swastika marks the
beginning of many Buddhist scriptures. In East Asian countries, the
left-facing character is often used as symbol for
Buddhism and marks
the site of a
Buddhist temple on maps.
In Chinese, Japanese, and Korean the swastika is also a homonym of the
number 10,000, and is commonly used to represent the whole of
creation, e.g. "the myriad things" in the Dao De Jing. During the
Chinese Tang Dynasty, Empress
Wu Zetian (684–704) decreed that the
swastika would also be used as an alternative symbol of the Sun.
When the Chinese writing system was introduced to
Japan in the
8th century, the swastika was adopted into the Japanese language
and culture. It is commonly referred as the manji (lit.
"Man-character"). Since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a mon 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 swastika is often referred to as
the gyaku manji (逆卍, lit. "reverse swastika") or migi manji
(右卍, lit. "right swastika"), and can also be called kagi jūji
(鉤十字, literally "hook cross").
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.
As a pottery graph of unknown provenance and meaning the swastika-like
sign is known in Chinese
Neolithic culture (2400–2000 BCE, Liu wan
Jainism and East Asia
Buddha's footprints, 2nd-century
Saisen box in Sensō Temple, Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo, Japan
The Hachisuka swastika, a family crest used by the Japanese Hachisuka
Khachkar with swastikas Sanahin, Armenia
Armenia the swastika is called the "arevakhach" and "kerkhach"
(Armenian: կեռխաչ)[dubious – discuss] and is the ancient
symbol of eternity and eternal light (i.e. God). Swastikas in Armenia
were founded on petroglyphs from the copper age, predating the Bronze
Age. During the Bronze Age it was depicted on cauldrons, belts,
medallions and other items. Among the oldest petroglyphs is the
seventh letter of the Armenian alphabet – "E" (which means "is" or
"to be") – depicted as a half-swastika.
Swastikas can also be seen on early Medieval churches and fortresses,
including the principal tower in Armenia's historical capital city of
Ani. The same symbol can be found on Armenian carpets,
cross-stones (khachkar) and in medieval manuscripts, as well as on
modern monuments as a symbol of eternity.
Swastika shapes have been found on numerous artifacts from Iron Age
Europe – Armenian arevakhach (Armenian: Արևախաչ, արև arev
"sun" + խաչ xač "cross", "sun cross"), Greco-Roman,
Illyrians, Etruscan, Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic.
European use of the swastiks
Etruscan pendant with swastika symbols, Bolsena, Italy,
700–650 BCE, Louvre Museum
Ancient Roman mosaics of La Olmeda, Spain
Svastika on a Roman mosaic in Veli Brijun, Croatia
Swastiska on the Snoldelev Rune Stone, Denmark.
Lielvārde ethnographic belt, Latvia.
Ancient Greek architectural, clothing and coin designs are replete
with single or interlinking swastika motifs. There are also gold plate
fibulae from the 8th century BCE 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, or rather the
tetra-gammadion. The name gammadion comes from its being seen as being
made up of four Greek gamma (Γ) letters.
Ancient Greek architectural
designs are replete with the interlinking symbol.
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 Greek keys. There have also been swastikas found
on the floors of Pompeii.
Swastika on a Greek silver stater coin from Corinth, 6th century
Bronze Age Mycenaean "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.
Two sauwastikas (opposite-facing swastikas) on an ancient Greek
kantharos, Attica, ca. 780 BCE
The bronze frontispiece of a ritual pre-Christian (c. 350–50 BCE)
shield found in the
River Thames near
Battersea Bridge (hence
"Battersea Shield") is embossed with 27 swastikas in bronze and red
Ogham stone found in Anglish, Co Kerry,
141) was modified into an early Christian gravestone, and was
decorated with a cross pattée and two swastikas. The Book of
Kells (ca. 800) contains swastika-shaped ornamentation. 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. A number of swastikas have been found embossed in Galician
metal pieces and carved in stones, mostly from the Castro Culture
period, although there also are contemporary examples (imitating old
patterns for decorative purposes)
Germanic Iron Age
A comb with a swastika found in Nydam Mose, Denmark
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, today in Belarus, the 9th-century
Snoldelev Stone from
Ramsø, Denmark, and numerous
Migration Period bracteates drawn
left-facing or right-facing.
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.[not in
citation given] The swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword
belt found at
Bifrons in Kent, in a grave of about the
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
cross. 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
Sæbø sword has been taken as evidence of the swastika as
a symbol of
Thor in Norse paganism.
The swastika was widespread among the Illyrians, symbolizing the Sun.
Sun cult was the main Illyrian cult; the
Sun was represented by a
swastika in clockwise motion, and it stood for the movement of the
Hands of Gods (Polish: Ręce Bogów) with swastikas; Thunder Cross or
Cross of Perun, clockwise and counterclockwise
Kołowrót (Polish: słoneczko "little sun")
According to painter Stanisław Jakubowski the "little sun" (pol.
słoneczko) is an Early Slavic pagan symbol of the Sun. It was
engraved on wooden monuments built near the final resting places of
Slavs to represent eternal life. The symbol was first seen in a
collection of Early Slavic symbols and architectural features drawn
and compiled by Polish painter Stanisław Jakubowski, which he named
Prasłowiańskie motywy architektoniczne (Polish: Early Slavic
Architectural Motifs). His work was published in 1923, by a publishing
house that was then based in the Dębniki district of Kraków. The
symbol can also be found on embroidery and pottery in most Slavic
Old Russian embroidery
World War I
World War I the swastika was a favorite sign of the
last Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She placed it where she
could for happiness, including drawing it in pencil on the walls and
windows in the
Ipatiev House - place of execution of the royal family,
and, without dating, on the wallpaper above the bed, where obviously
slept the heir. It was printed on some banknotes of the Russian
Provisional Government (1917) and some sovznaks (1918-1922). In
1919 it was approved as insignia for the Kalmyk formations, and
for a short period had a certain popularity amongst some artists,
politics and army groups. Also it was present on icons, vestments
and clerical clothing but in
World War II
World War II it was removed, becoming
by association, a symbol of the German occupation.
Russia some neo-Nazis and neopagans argue that the
Russian name of the swastika is Kołowrót (Russian: Коловрат,
literally "spinning wheel"), but there are no ethnographic sources
confirming this. In the traditional vernacular the swastika
was called differently; for example, "breeze" – as in Christianity,
the swastika represents a spiritual movement, descent of the Holy
Spirit, and therefore the "wind" and "spirit" – a word with one
meaning. Or "geeses", "ognevtsi" (dialect. "little flames"),
"hares" (towel with a swastika was called as towel with the "hares"),
"little horses", because it is such a curved cross.
Russian National Unity
Russian National Unity group's branch in
officially registered under the name "Kołowrót" and published an
extremist newspaper in 2001 under the same name. A criminal
investigation found the paper included an array of racial epithets.
One Narva resident was sentenced to 1 year in jail for distribution of
Kołowrót. The Kolovrat has since been used by the Rusich
Battalion, a Russian militant group known for its operation during the
War in Donbass.
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
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 ceiling painted in 1910 in the church of St Laurent in
many swastikas. It can be visited today because the church became the
archaeological museum of the city. 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 Rogier van der Weyden
presents the swastika form simply as one way of depicting the cross.
Swastikas also appear in art and architecture during the Renaissance
Baroque era. The fresco The School of Athens shows an ornament
made out of swastikas, and the symbol can also be found on the facade
of the Santa Maria della Salute, a Roman Catholic church and minor
basilica located at Punta della Dogana in the Dorsoduro sestiere of
the city of Venice.
In the Polish First Republic the symbol of the swastika was also
popular with the nobility. According to 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 eagle.
A swastika can be seen on stonework at Valle Crucis Abbey, near
Because the outer lines point to the left instead of the swastika's
right point ends, this is referred to as a sauwastika. This pattern
can be found in a Venetian palace that likely follows a Roman pattern,
at Palazzo Roncale, Rovigo
A swastika composed of Hebrew letters as a mystical symbol from the
Jewish Kabbalistic work "Parashat Eliezer"
Swastikas on the vestments of the effigy of Bishop William Edington
(d. 1366) in Winchester Cathedral
The swastika is among the adinkra symbols and can be found on Ashanti
gold weights in West Africa.
Ashanti weight in Africa
Carved fretwork forming a swastika in the window of a Lalibela
rock-hewn church in Ethiopia
Early 20th century
Main article: Western use of the swastika in the early 20th century
Swastikas on the wedding dress as symbols of luck, British colony,
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
associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans,
whose proto-language was not coincidentally termed
German language historians. 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 it to ancient Teutons, Greeks of the time of Homer
and Indians of the Vedic era. By the early 20th century, it
was used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and
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
Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, the swastika has been
associated with Nazism, fascism, racism in its (white supremacy) form,
Axis powers in World War II, and the
Holocaust in much of the
West. The swastika remains a core symbol of Neo-
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 blue field. The Lambach
swastika is probably of Medieval origin.
In the 1880s the
Theosophical Society adopted a swastika as part of
its seal, along with an Om, a hexagram or star of David, an
an Ouroboros. Unlike the much more recent Raëlian movement, 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 British author and poet
Rudyard Kipling used the symbol on the cover art of a number of his
works, including The Five Nations, 1903, which has it twinned with an
Carlsberg's Elephant Tower.
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. The swastika carved on elephants at the entrance
gates of the company's headquarters in
Copenhagen in 1901 can still be
Swastika Laundry was a laundry founded in 1912, located on
Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, a district of Dublin, Ireland. In the
Heinrich Böll came across a van belonging to the company
while he was staying in Ireland, leading to some awkward moments
before he realized 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.
Finland the swastika ("hakaristi", meaning hook-cross) was often
used in traditional folk art products, as a decoration or magical
symbol on textiles and wood. The swastika was also used by the Finnish
Air Force until 1945, and is still used on air force flags.
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 on products made
there. Traditional textiles are still being made with swastikas
as parts of traditional ornaments.
The aircraft roundel and insignia of the Finnish Air force from
The flag of the
Finnish Air Force
Finnish Air Force Academy
Lotta Svärd emblem designed by Eric Wasström in 1921
Finnish Air Force
Finnish Air Force used the swastika as an emblem, introduced in
1918. The type of swastika adopted by the air-force was the symbol of
luck for the Swedish count Eric von Rosen, who donated one of its
earliest aircraft; he later became a prominent figure in the Swedish
The swastika was also used by the women's paramilitary organization
Lotta Svärd, which was banned in 1944 in accordance with the Moscow
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 protocol, 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, and
was designed by the artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The Grand Cross with
the 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
President of France Charles De
Gaulle was uncomfortable with the swastika collar.
Also a design by Gallen-Kallela from 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.
In December 2007, a silver replica of the
World War II
World War II period Finnish
air defence's relief ring decorated with a 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 defence's relief ring, made of iron.
Latvian Air Force.
The swastica is an old Baltic thunder cross.
Latvia adopted the
swastika, called the Ugunskrusts ("fire cross"), for its Air Force in
1918/1919 and continued its use until 1940. The cross itself was
maroon on a white background, mirroring the colors of the Latvian
flag. Earlier versions pointed counter-clockwise, while later versions
pointed clock-wise and eliminated the white background.
The traditional symbols of the Podhale Rifles include the edelweiss
flower and the Mountain Cross, a swastika symbol popular in folk
culture of the Polish mountainous regions. The units of Podhale
Rifles, both historical and modern, are notable for their high morale
and distinctive uniforms.
ASEA logo prior to 1933.
The Swedish company ASEA, now a part of ABB, used a company logo
featuring a swastika. The logo was replaced in 1933, when Adolf Hitler
came to power in Germany.
The old symbol of the US 45th Infantry Division
The swastika motif is found in some traditional Native American art
and iconography. Historically, the design has been found in
excavations of Mississippian-era sites in the Ohio and Mississippi
River valleys, and on objects associated with the Southeastern
Ceremonial Complex (S.E.C.C.). It is also widely used by a number of
southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo, and plains nations such
as the Dakota. Among various tribes, the swastika carries different
meanings. To the
Hopi it represents the wandering
Hopi clan; to the
Navajo it is one symbol for the whirling log (tsil no'oli), a sacred
image representing a legend that is used in healing rituals. A
First Nations saddle featuring swastika designs is on
display at the
Royal Saskatchewan Museum
Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada.
Passamaquoddy Native American tribe, now located in the state of
Maine and in Canada, used an elongated swastika on their war canoes in
the American colonial period as well as later. A carving of a
canoe with a Passamaquody swastika was found in a ruin in the Argonne
Forest in France, having been carved there by Moses Neptune, an
American soldier of Passamaquody heritage, who was one of the last
American soldiers to die in battle in World War I.
Before the 1930s, the symbol for the 45th Infantry Division of the
United States Army was a red diamond with a yellow swastika, a tribute
to the large Native American population in the southwestern United
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 points.
In February 1925 the Kuna revolted vigorously against Panamanian
suppression of their culture, and in 1930 they assumed autonomy. 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
The town of Swastika, Ontario,
Canada is named after the symbol.
From 1909 to 1916, the K-R-I-T automobile, manufactured in Detroit,
Michigan, used a right-facing swastika as their trademark.
The swastika in North America
Chief William Neptune of the Passamaquoddy, wearing a headdress and
outfit adorned with swastikas
Illustration of the
Horned Serpent by artist
Herb Roe based on an
engraved shelll cup from Spiro, Oklahoma
Chilocco Indian Agricultural School
Chilocco Indian Agricultural School basketball team in 1909.
Fernie Swastikas women's hockey team, 1922
The flag of the
The flag of
Nazi Germany, which differs from the flag of the Nazi
Party (above) in that the swastika is offset.
Emblem of the Youth wing of the Bulgarian fascist organisation Union
of Bulgarian National Legions with swastika
Use in Nazism
The swastika was widely used in
Europe at the start of the 20th
century. It symbolized many things to the Europeans, with the most
common symbolism being of good luck and auspiciousness. In the
wake of widespread popular usage, in post-
World War I
World War I Germany, the
Nazi Party formally adopted the
[ˈhaːkn̩kʀɔʏts], meaning "hooked-cross") in 1920. The emblem was
a black swastika (hooks branching clockwise) rotated 45 degrees on a
white circle on a red background. This insignia was used on the
party's flag, badge, and armband.
In his 1925 work Mein Kampf,
Adolf Hitler writes that: "I myself,
meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a
flag with a red background, 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
The swastika was also understood as "the symbol of the creating,
effecting life" (das
Symbol des schaffenden, wirkenden Lebens) and as
"race emblem of Germanism" (Rasseabzeichen des Germanentums).
The use of the swastika was incorporated by
Nazi theorists with their
Aryan cultural descent of the German people. The
fascination of the German people with Aryanism arose when artifacts
with swastikas on them were found near the Trojan city of
Heinrich Schliemann. The
Nazi party was looking for the symbol that
would preferably catch the attention of all of
Germany and the
swastika had that potential. It became a symbol to unify the German
people, to a conjecture about their ancestors,
Aryan identity and
nationalistic pride. It also allowed the
Nazi party to establish their
anti-Semitic views, as well as terrify Jews and the enemies of the
The concept of racial hygiene was an ideology central to Nazism,
though it is scientific racism. For Alfred Rosenberg, the
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 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). 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 (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
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.
— Ulric of England, Deutschland Erwache, ISBN 0-912138-69-6
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] Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels,
hoisted at Werfenstein Castle (Austria) a yellow flag with a swastika
and four fleurs-de-lys.
Divisional insignia of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking
Divisional insignia of 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division
However, Liebenfels was drawing on an already established use of the
symbol. On 14 March 1933, shortly after Hitler's appointment as
Chancellor of Germany, the NSDAP flag was hoisted alongside Germany's
national colors. An adaption of the party's flag – with the swastika
slightly offset from center – was adopted as the sole national flag
Germany on 15 September 1935.
The swastika was used for badges and flags throughout
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. 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. 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.
Several variants are found:
a 45° black swastika on a white disc as in the NSDAP and national
a 45° black swastika on a white lozenge (Hitler Youth);
a 45° black swastika with a white outline was painted on the tail of
aircraft of the Luftwaffe, and usually using a design based on a
25-small-square subdivided square template (width of "strokes" in each
of its arms, equalling the width of the space between the strokes);
a 45° black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a
white disc (the German War Ensign);
an upright black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a
white disc (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.
a swastika with curved outer arms forming a broken circle, as worn by
the Waffen SS Wiking and Nordland Divisions.
Use by anti-Nazis
Swastikas marking downed German aircraft on the fuselage sides of a
World War II
World War II it was common to use small swastikas to mark
air-to-air victories on the sides of Allied aircraft, and at least one
British fighter pilot inscribed a swastika in his logbook for each
German plane he shot down.
World War II
World War II stigmatization
Because of its use by
Nazi Germany, the swastika since the 1930s has
been largely associated with Nazism. In the aftermath of World War II
it has been considered a symbol of hate in the West, or
alternatively of white supremacy in many Western countries.
As a result, all of its use, or its use as a
Nazi or hate symbol, is
prohibited in some countries, including Germany. Because of the stigma
attached to the symbol, many buildings that have used the symbol as
decoration have had the symbol removed. In some
countries, such as the United States' Virginia v. Black 2003 case, the
highest courts have ruled that the local governments can prohibit the
use of swastika along with other symbols such as cross burning, if the
intent of the use is to intimidate others.
Strafgesetzbuch section 86a
The German and Austrian postwar criminal code makes the public showing
Hakenkreuz (the swastika), the sig rune, the Celtic cross
(specifically the variations used by white power activists), the
wolfsangel, the odal rune and the
Totenkopf skull illegal, except for
scholarly reasons (and, in the case of the odal rune, as the insignia
of the rank of sergeant major, Hauptfeldwebel, in the modern
German Bundeswehr). 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, Buddhist, and Jain temples are exempt, as
religious symbols cannot be banned in Germany.
The German fashion company
Esprit Holdings was investigated for using
traditional British-made folded leather buttons after complaints that
they resembled swastikas. In response,
Esprit Holdings destroyed two
hundred thousand catalogues.
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, 17 March 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 non-violent young people engaging against right-wing extremism." On
15 March 2007, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany
(Bundesgerichtshof) held that the crossed-out symbols were "clearly
directed against a revival of national-socialist endeavors", thereby
settling the dispute for the future.
Legislation in other European countries
A swastika used as part of antisemitic graffiti in Madrid, Spain. The
use of the swastika as a symbol of hatred for Jews is based on its
adoption by the Nazis. Synagogues are particularly vulnerable to this
kind of vandalism.
Until 2013 in Hungary, it was a criminal misdemeanour to publicly
display "totalitarian symbols", including the swastika, the SS
insignia, and the Arrow Cross, punishable by custodial
arrest. Display for academic, educational, artistic or
journalistic reasons was allowed at the time. The communist symbols of
hammer and sickle and the red star were also regarded as totalitarian
symbols and had the same restriction by Hungarian criminal law until
In Lithuania, public display of
Nazi and Soviet symbols, including the
Nazi swastika, is an administrative offence, punishable by a fine from
150 to 300 euros. According to judicial practice, display of a
Nazi swastika is legal.
In Poland, public display of
Nazi symbols, including the Nazi
swastika, is a criminal offence punishable by up to eight years of
imprisonment. The use of the swastika as a religious symbol is
Attempt to ban in the 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 Organizations 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 29 January 2007.
The manufacture, distribution or broadcasting of the swastika, 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
Guna 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).
As with many neo-
Nazi groups across the world, the swastika is a part
of the American
Nazi Party's flag. The symbol was chosen by its
founder George Rockwell.
Swastika, in various iconographic forms, is one of the hate symbols
identified to be in use as graffiti in the schools of the United
States, and is a part of the 1999 US Department of Education's
emergency school-wide response trigger.
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.
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular in
Disney Hollywood Studios
Disney Hollywood Studios in
Orlando, Florida, the swastikas on German trucks, aircraft and actor
uniforms in the reenactment of a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark
were removed in 2004. The swastika has been replaced by a stylized
Nazi imagery was adapted and incorporated into the 2016 sci-fi movie
2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be. Its inclusion was to subliminally draw
parallels between the movie's Federal Bureau of Termination and Nazi
Germany, and also refer to Kurt Vonnegut's experiences as a
World War II
World War II played in his imagining of a
population-controlled future where gas chambers are used to terminate
people. The Federal Bureau of Termination logo appears as a white
geometric design with a black outline, centered on vertical banners,
in reference to the Third Reich banners. These banners were initially
red, until crew felt the allusion was too strong. The movie's hospital
was envisaged as the Bureau's branch which controlled birth, and their
red cross was given 'wings' to transform it into a swastika, and link
it to the Bureau's logo.
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 self-determination,
and develop deeper ties with other ethnicities and cultures".
East and Southeast Asia
Swastika on a temple in Korea (left), in Taiwan (right)
In East Asia, the swastika is prevalent in Buddhist monasteries and
communities. It is commonly found in Buddhist temples, religious
artefacts, texts related to
Buddhism and schools founded by Buddhist
religious groups. It also appears as a design or motif (singularly or
woven into a pattern) on textiles, architecture and various decorative
objects as a symbol of luck and good fortune. The icon is also found
as a sacred symbol in the
Bon tradition, but in the left facing
A member of the Red Swastika, c.1937
Swastika Society, a syncretic religious group that aspires to
unify Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, runs two schools in Hong
Kong (the Hong Kong
Red Swastika Society
Red Swastika Society Tai Po Secondary School
and the Hong Kong
Red Swastika Society
Red Swastika Society Tuen Mun Primary School)
and one in Singapore (Red
Swastika School). All of them incorporated
Swastika in their school logo to signify the society's aspiration
with philanthropy and moral education.
Among the predominantly
Hindu population of
Bali Indonesia, the
swastika is common in temples, homes and public spaces. Similarly, the
swastika is a common icon associated with Buddha's footprints in
Theravada Buddhist communities of Myanmar,
Thailand and Cambodia.
The swastika is also used as a map symbol to denote a temple. For
example, the symbol is designated by the Survey Act and related
Japanese governmental rules to denote a
Buddhist temple on Japanese
Hirosaki City in
Aomori Prefecture designates this symbol as its
official flag, which stemmed from its use in the emblem of the Tsugaru
clan, the lords of
Hirosaki Domain during the Edo period.
Logo of Musaeus College, a Buddhist girls' school in Sri Lanka.
In India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the swastika is common. Temples,
businesses and other organisations, such as the Buddhist libraries,
Ahmedabad Stock Exchange
Ahmedabad Stock Exchange and the Nepal Chamber of Commerce, use
the swastika in reliefs or logos. Swastikas are ubiquitous in
Indian and Nepalese communities, located on shops, buildings,
transport vehicles, and clothing. The swastika continues to be
prominently used in
Hindu ceremonies such as weddings. The left facing
sauwastika symbol is found in tantric rituals.
Musaeus College in Colombo,
Sri Lanka which is a popular Buddhist
girls' school in the country has a left facing swastika in their
In India, swastik and swastika, with their spelling variants, are
first names for males and females respectively, for instance with
Swastika Mukherjee. The
Seal of Bihar
Seal of Bihar contains two swastikas.
Western misinterpretation of Asian use
Since the end of the 20th century, and through the early 21st century,
confusion and controversy has occurred when consumer goods bearing the
traditional Jain, Buddhist, or
Hindu symbols have been exported to the
West, notably to North America and Europe, and have been interpreted
by consumers as bearing a
Nazi symbol. This has resulted in several
such products having been boycotted or pulled from shelves.
When a ten-year-old boy in Lynbrook, New York, bought a set of
Pokémon cards imported from
Japan in 1999, two of the cards contained
the left-facing Buddhist swastika. The boy's parents misinterpreted
the symbol as the right-facing
Nazi swastika and filed a complaint to
Nintendo of America
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 more
In 2002, Christmas crackers containing plastic toy red pandas sporting
swastikas were pulled from shelves after complaints from consumers in
Canada. The manufacturer, based in China, said 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.
New religious movements
Besides the use as a religious symbol in Hinduism,
Jainism, which can be traced to pre-modern traditions, the swastika is
also used by a number of new religious movements established in the
The Raëlian symbol with the swastika (left) and the alternative
The Raëlian Movement, who believe that extraterrestrials 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
Star of David represents infinity in space
whereas the swastika represents infinity in time—no beginning and no
end in time, and everything being cyclic. 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 movement
Ananda Marga (Devanagari: आनन्द
मार्ग, 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
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 alludes to a chakra-like portion of the esoteric human
anatomy, located in the stomach.
The swastika is a holy symbol of
Odinism and Asatru (Heathenry), along
with hammer of
Thor and runes. This tradition is found in Scandinavia,
Germany and elsewhere, and it considers the swastika to be derived
from Norse symbol for the sun. Their use of the symbol has led to
accusations of their being a neo-
Nazi Germany portal
Armenian eternity sign
Western use of the swastika in the early 20th century
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