Swastika
Overview
The swastika is an equilateral
Equilateral
In geometry, an equilateral polygon is a polygon which has all sides of the same length.For instance, an equilateral triangle is a triangle of equal edge lengths...

 cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

 of Ancient India
Ancient India
Ancient India may refer to:* The ancient history of India, which generally includes the ancient history of the Asian Subcontinent, including:*Science and technology in ancient India**Indian mathematics**Astronomy**List of Indian inventions...

 as well as Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Swastikas have also been used in other various ancient civilizations around the world. It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, primarily as a tantric symbol to evoke 'shakti' or the sacred symbol of good luck.
Encyclopedia
The swastika is an equilateral
Equilateral
In geometry, an equilateral polygon is a polygon which has all sides of the same length.For instance, an equilateral triangle is a triangle of equal edge lengths...

 cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

 of Ancient India
Ancient India
Ancient India may refer to:* The ancient history of India, which generally includes the ancient history of the Asian Subcontinent, including:*Science and technology in ancient India**Indian mathematics**Astronomy**List of Indian inventions...

 as well as Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Swastikas have also been used in other various ancient civilizations around the world. It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, primarily as a tantric symbol to evoke 'shakti' or the sacred symbol of good luck. The swastika is also a Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 used in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 representing eternity and Buddhism.

Following a brief surge of popularity in Western culture
Western use of the Swastika in the early 20th century
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form or its mirrored left-facing form. Archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates from the Neolithic period and was first found in the Indus Valley Civilization of the Indian...

, the counter clock motion swastika was adopted as a symbol of the Nazi Party of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1920. After Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

’s rise to power in the 1930s, a swastika was incorporated into 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
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and White Supremacism since the 1930s in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 and is now largely stigmatized. It has notably been outlawed in Germany
Strafgesetzbuch § 86a
The German Strafgesetzbuch in § 86a outlaws "use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations". This concerns Nazi symbolism in particular and is part of the denazification efforts following the fall of the Third Reich....

 if used as a symbol of Nazism. Many modern political extremists and Neo-Nazi
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

 groups such as the Russian National Unity
Russian National Unity
Russian National Unity or All-Russian civic patriotic movement "Russian National Unity" , is a far right, fascist political party and paramilitary organization based in Russia and operating in states with Russian-speaking populations. It was founded by the ultra-nationalist Alexander Barkashov...

 use stylized swastikas or similar symbols.

Name

The word swastika came from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word , meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck.
It is composed of su- meaning "good, well" and asti "to be" suasti thus means "well-being." The suffix -ka either forms a diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and suastika 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
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

. As noted by Monier-Williams in his Sanskrit-English dictionary, according to Alexander Cunningham
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

, its shape represents a monogram formed by interlacing of the letters of the auspicious words su-astí () written in Ashokan characters
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

.

The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 term has been in use in English since 1871, replacing gammadion (from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 ). Alternative historical English spellings of the Sanskrit phonological words with different meanings to include suastika, swastica and svastica.

Other names for the shape are:
  • crooked cross, hook cross or angled cross (Hebrew: צלב קרס, German: ).
  • cross cramponned, ~nnée, or ~nny, in heraldry
    Heraldry
    Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

    , as each arm resembles a crampon or angle-iron .
  • fylfot
    Fylfot
    Fylfot or fylfot cross , is a synonym for swastika, sometimes used in Britain.However – at least in modern heraldry texts, such as Friar and Woodcock & Robinson – the fylfot differs somewhat from the archetypal form of the swastika: always upright and typically with truncated limbs, as...

    , 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 , as each arm resembles the Greek letter
    Greek alphabet
    The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

     Γ ().
  • tetraskelion (Greek: ), literally meaning "four legged", especially when composed of four conjoined legs (compare triskelion
    Triskelion
    A triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, or any similar symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry. Both words are from Greek or , "three-legged", from prefix "τρι-" , "three times" + "σκέλος" , "leg"...

     (Greek: )).
  • The Tibetan swastika (卍) is known as g-yung drung


The Buddhist sign has been standardised as a Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

  (pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

: ) and as such entered various other East Asian languages such as Japanese where the symbol is called .
The swastika is included as part of the Chinese script
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 in the form of the character "萬" (pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

: wàn) and has Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 encodings U+534D 卍 (left-facing) and U+5350 卐 (right-facing). In Unicode 5.2, four swastika symbols were added to the Tibetan block
Tibetan script
The Tibetan alphabet is an abugida of Indic origin used to write the Tibetan language as well as the Dzongkha language, Denzongkha, Ladakhi language and sometimes the Balti language. The printed form of the alphabet is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday...

: U+0FD5 卐 (right-facing), U+0FD6 卍 (left-facing), U+0FD7 ࿗ (right-facing with dots) and U+0FD8 ࿘ (left-facing with dots).

Geometry

Geometrically
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

, the swastika can be regarded as an irregular icosagon
Icosagon
In geometry, an icosagon is a twenty-sided polygon. The sum of any icosagon's interior angles is 3240 degrees.One interior angle in a regular icosagon is 162° meaning that one exterior angle would be 18°...

 or 20-sided polygon
Polygon
In geometry a polygon is a flat shape consisting of straight lines that are joined to form a closed chain orcircuit.A polygon is traditionally a plane figure that is bounded by a closed path, composed of a finite sequence of straight line segments...

. The proportions of the Nazi swastika were fixed based on a 5 × 5 diagonal grid.

Characteristic is the 90° rotational symmetry
Rotational symmetry
Generally speaking, an object with rotational symmetry is an object that looks the same after a certain amount of rotation. An object may have more than one rotational symmetry; for instance, if reflections or turning it over are not counted, the triskelion appearing on the Isle of Man's flag has...

 and chirality
Chirality (mathematics)
In geometry, a figure is chiral if it is not identical to its mirror image, or, more precisely, if it cannot be mapped to its mirror image by rotations and translations alone. For example, a right shoe is different from a left shoe, and clockwise is different from counterclockwise.A chiral object...

, hence the absence of reflectional symmetry
Symmetry
Symmetry generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection...

, and the existence of two versions of swastikas that are each other's mirror image
Mirror image
A mirror image is a reflected duplication of an object that appears identical but reversed. As an optical effect it results from reflection off of substances such as a mirror or water. It is also a concept in geometry and can be used as a conceptualization process for 3-D structures...

.

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 (卍) in clock motion or right (卐) in counter clock motion. 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" suastika. The terms are used inconsistently in modern times, which is confusing and may obfuscate an important point, that the rotation of the swastika may have symbolic relevance, although ancient vedic scripts describe the symbolic relevance of clock motion and counter clock motion. Less ambiguous terms might be "clockwise-pointing" and "counterclockwise-pointing."

Nazi ensign
Ensign
An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry...

s had a through and through
Through and through
Through and through describes a situation where an object, real or imaginary, passes completely through another object, also real or imaginary...

 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
Sauwastika
The term sauwastika is sometimes used to distinguish the "left-facing" from the "right-facing" form of the swastika symbol, a meaning which developed in 19th century scholarship....

" 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
Cultural diffusion
In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as first conceptualized by Alfred L. Kroeber in his influential 1940 paper Stimulus Diffusion, or trans-cultural diffusion in later reformulations, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies,...

 or an explanation along the lines of Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

's collective unconscious
Collective unconscious
Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is proposed to be a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizes experience...

.

The genesis of the swastika symbol is often treated in conjunction with cross symbols in general, such as the sun cross
Sun cross
The sun cross, also known as the wheel cross, Odin's cross, or Woden's cross, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in artifacts of the Americas and Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.-Stone Age:...

 of paganBronze Age religion
Prehistoric religion
Prehistoric religion is a general term for the religious beliefs and practices of prehistoric peoples. More specifically it encompasses Paleolithic religion, Mesolithic religion, Neolithic religion and Bronze Age religion.-Burial:...

. Beyond its certain presence in the "proto-writing" symbol systems emerging in the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

, nothing certain is known about the symbol's origin. There are nevertheless a number of speculative hypotheses. One hypothesis is that the cross symbols and the swastika share a common origin in simply symbolizing the sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

. Another hypothesis is that the 4 arms of the cross represent 4 aspects of nature - the sun, wind, water, soil. Some have said the 4 arms of cross are four seasons, where the division for 90-degree sections correspond to the solstice
Solstice
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes...

s and equinox
Equinox
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator...

es.The Hindus represent it as the Universe in our own spiral galaxy in the fore finger of Lord Vishu. This carries most significance in establishing the creation of the Universe and the arms as 'kal' or time ,a calendar that is seen to be more advanced than the lunar calendar (symbolized by the lunar crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 common to Islam) where the seasons drift from calendar year to calendar year. The luni-solar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 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
Star of David
The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

 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
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 in his book Comet (1985) reproduces Han period Chinese manuscript (the Book of Silk
Book of Silk
The Divination by Astrological and Meteorological Phenomena , also known as Book of Silk is an ancient astronomy silk manuscript compiled by Chinese astronomers of the Western Han Dynasty and found in the Mawangdui tomb of China in 1973...

, 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
Comet
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the 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
Ian Stewart (mathematician)
Ian Nicholas Stewart FRS is a professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, England, and a widely known popular-science and science-fiction writer. He is the first recipient of the , awarded jointly by the LMS and the IMA for his work on promoting mathematics.-Biography:Stewart was born...

 suggests the ubiquitous swastika pattern arises when parallel waves of neural activity sweep across the visual cortex
Visual cortex
The visual cortex of the brain is the part of the cerebral cortex responsible for processing visual information. It is located in the occipital lobe, in the back of the brain....

 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
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

 suggested that the Buddhist use of the shape arose from a combination of Brahmi
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 characters abbreviating the words su astí.

Archaeological record

Another early attestation is on pottery from the Samarra culture, dated to around 4000 BC.
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

 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
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. 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
Lothal
Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt and dating from 2400 BCE. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from February 13, 1955 to May 19, 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India...

 and Harappa
Harappa
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

, on Indus Valley seals.

Swastikas have also been found on pottery in archaeological digs in Africa, in the area of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 and on pottery at the Jebel Barkal temples, in Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 designs of the northern Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 (Koban culture
Koban culture
The Koban culture is a late Bronze Age and Iron Age culture of the northern and central Caucasus. It is preceded by the Colchian culture of the western Caucasus and the Kharachoi culture further east....

), and in Neolithic China in the Majiabang
Majiabang culture
The Majiabang culture was a Neolithic culture that existed at the mouth of the Yangtze River, primarily around the Taihu area and north of Hangzhou Bay in China. The culture was spread throughout southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC...

, Dawenkou
Dawenkou culture
The Dawenkou culture is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu, China. The culture existed from 4100 BC to 2600 BC, co-existing with the Yangshao culture. Turquoise, jade and ivory artefacts...

 and Xiaoheyan cultures.
Other Iron Age attestations of the swastika can be associated with Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 cultures such as the Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

,
Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

s, Greeks, Macedonians
Ancient Macedonians
The Macedonians originated from inhabitants of the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, in the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axios...

 and Germanic peoples
Swastika (Germanic Iron Age)
The swastika design is known from artefacts of various cultures since the Neolithic, and it recurs with some frequency on artefacts dated to the Germanic Iron Age, i.e...

 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
Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

, and later also in Iron Age Scythian and European (Baltic and Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

) 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
Moundville Archaeological Site
Moundville Archaeological Site, also known as the Moundville Archaeological Park, is a Mississippian site on the Black Warrior River in Hale County, near the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama...

).

Historical use in the East

The swastika is a historical sacred symbol both to evoke 'Shakti' in tantric rituals and evoke the gods for blessings in Indian religions. It first appears in the archaeological record here around 2500 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

.
It rose to importance in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 during the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 with the decline of Buddhism in India
Decline of Buddhism in India
The decline of Buddhism in India, the land of its birth, occurred for a variety of reasons, and happened even as it continued to flourish beyond the frontiers of India. Buddhism was established in the area of ancient Magadha and Kosala by Gautama Buddha in the 6th century BCE, in what is now modern...

 during the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

. With the spread of Buddhism
Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE.The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the...

, the Buddhist swastika reached Tibet and China. The symbol was also introduced to Balinese Hinduism
Hinduism in Indonesia
Hinduism in Indonesia, also known by its formal Indonesian name Agama Hindu Dharma, refers to Hinduism as practised in Indonesia. According to the 2000 census Hindus consisted 1.79% of the total population with 88.05% in Bali and 5.89% in Central Kalimantan...

 by Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 kings. The use of the swastika by the Bön faith of Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, as well as later syncretic
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 religions, such as Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

 of Vietnam and Falun Gong
Falun Gong
Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline first introduced in China in 1992 by its founder, Li Hongzhi, through public lectures. It combines the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with the moral philosophy...

 of China, can also be traced to Buddhist influence.

Buddhism

Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 originated in the 5th century BC and spread throughout the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 in the 3rd century BC (Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

).
Known as a "yung drung" in ancient Tibet, it was a graphical representation of eternity.

East Asian traditions

The paired swastika symbols are included, at least since the Liao Dynasty
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

, as part of the Chinese writing system
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 (卍 and 卐) and are variant characters for 萬 or 万 (wàn in Mandarin, man in Korean, Cantonese and Japanese, vạn in Vietnamese) meaning "all" or "eternity" (lit. myriad
Myriad
Myriad , "numberlesscountless, infinite", is a classical Greek word for the number 10,000. In modern English, the word refers to an unspecified large quantity.-History and usage:...

). 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 and Japanese 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
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, Empress Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

 (684-704) decreed that the swastika would also be used as an alternative symbol of the Sun.

In Japan, the swastika is called manji. Since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a coat of arms
Mon (badge)
, also , , and , are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual or family. While mon is an encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamon and mondokoro refer specifically to emblems used to identify a family....

 by various Japanese families such as Tsugaru clan
Tsugaru clan
The was a Japanese samurai clan originating in northern Japan, specifically Mutsu Province . A branch of the local Nanbu clan, the Tsugaru rose to power during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. It was on the winning side of the Battle of Sekigahara, and entered the Edo period as a family of lords ...

, Hachisuka clan
Hachisuka clan
The ' are descendants of Emperor Seiwa and are a branch of the Ashikaga clan and the Shiba clan .Ashikaga Ieuji , son of Ashikaga Yasuuji was the first who adopted the name of Shiba...

 or around 60 clans that belong to Tokugawa clan
Tokugawa clan
The was a powerful daimyo family of Japan. They nominally descended from Emperor Seiwa and were a branch of the Minamoto clan by the Nitta clan. However, the early history of this clan remains a mystery.-History:...

. On Japanese maps
Japanese map symbols
This is a list of symbols appearing on Japanese maps. These symbols are called in the Japanese language.symbolmeaningillustrationsymbolmeaningillustrationMunicipal building Municipal building...

, 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 or migi manji (右卍, lit. "right manji") , and can also be called kagi jūji (literally "hook cross").

In Chinese
Chinese art
Chinese art is visual art that, whether ancient or modern, originated in or is practiced in China or by Chinese artists or performers. Early so-called "stone age art" dates back to 10,000 BC, mostly consisting of simple pottery and sculptures. This early period was followed by a series of art...

 and Japanese
Japanese art
Japanese art covers a wide range of art styles and media, including ancient pottery, sculpture in wood and bronze, ink painting on silk and paper and more recently manga, cartoon, along with a myriad of other types of works of art...

 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 provision and meaning the swastka-like sign is known in Chinese Neolithic culture (2400-2000 BCE, Liu wan 柳湾, Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 province).

Hinduism

In Hinduism, the swastika is considered a symbolic representation of Ganesha
Ganesha
Ganesha , also spelled Ganesa or Ganesh, also known as Ganapati , Vinayaka , and Pillaiyar , is one of the deities best-known and most widely worshipped in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations...

. In Hindu rites, Ganesha is offered first offerings in every pooja. The swastika is made with Sindoor
Sindoor
Sindoor is a traditional red or orange-red colored cosmetic powder from the Indian subcontinent, usually worn by married women along the parting of their hair. Usage of sindoor denotes that a woman is married in many Hindu communities, and ceasing to wear it usually implies widowhood...

 during any Hindu religious rite.

Among the Hindus of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, it is common to see the name "swastika" ( 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 human being.

Jainism

Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 gives even more prominence to the swastika as a tantra than does Hinduism. It is a symbol of the seventh Tirthankara, Suparshvanath
Suparshvanath
Suparshvanath was the seventh Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he became a siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Suparshvnath was born to King Prathisth Raja and Queen Prithvidevi at Banaras in the Ikshvaku clan...

. In the Svetambara
Svetambara
The Śvētāmbara is one of the two main sects of Jainism, the other being the Digambar. Śvētāmbara "white-clad" is a term describing its ascetics' practice of wearing white clothes, which sets it apart from the Digambara "sky-clad" Jainas, whose ascetic practitioners go naked...

 tradition, it is also one of the symbols of the ashtamangala
Ashtamangala
Ashtamangala or Zhaxi Daggyai are a sacred suite of Eight Auspicious Signs endemic to a number of Dharmic Traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. The symbols or 'symbolic attributes' are yidam and teaching tools...

. All derasar
Derasar
A derasar is a temple for followers of Jainism, except for non-murtipujak Svetambaras. Derasar is a word used in Gujarat, Kutch and parts of Rajasthan, in other parts of India, the term Jain Mandir is used for all the Jain temples. Jain idols of Tirthankaras are worshipped there...

s 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 in a temple. Jains then put an offering on this swastika, usually a ripe or dried fruit, a sweet , or a coin or currency note.

Iran

In Iran, Golden necklace of three Swastika in Marlik
Marlik
Marlik is an ancient site near Roudbar in Gilan, north of Iran. The site of a royal cemetery, and artifacts found at this site date back to 3,000 years ago. According to G.N.Kurochkin, the archeological monuments Indo-Iranians and show similarities to the descriptions of the Avesta Yashts.-...

, Gilan province Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, dates back to first millennium BC probably.

Armenia

Swastikas in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 can be seen on early medieval churches and fortresses, such as the principal tower in Armenia's historical capital city of Ani
Ani
Ani is a ruined and uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site situated in the Turkish province of Kars, near the border with Armenia. It was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey...

.

Native American traditions

The swastika shape was used by some Native Americans. It has been found in excavations of Mississippian
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

-era sites in the Ohio
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 and Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 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
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 tribes, most notably the Navajo
Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

. Among various tribes, the swastika carried different meanings. To the Hopi
Hopi
The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language...

 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 ). A brightly colored First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 saddle featuring swastika designs is on display at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum
Royal Saskatchewan Museum
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum was established in Regina as the Provincial Museum in 1906 to "secure and preserve natural history specimens and objects of historical and ethnological interest." It was the first museum in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the first provincial museum in the three Prairie...

 in Canada.

A swastika shape is a symbol in the culture of the Kuna people
Kuna (people)
Kuna or Cuna is the name of an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. The spelling Kuna is currently preferred. In the Kuna language, the name is Dule or Tule, meaning "people," and the name of the language in Kuna is Dulegaya, meaning "Kuna language" - Location :The Kuna live in three...

 of Kuna Yala
Kuna Yala
Guna Yala is an autonomous territory or comarca in Panama, inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people.The name means "Guna-land" or "Guna mountain" in the Kuna language...

, 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 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
Bronze Age Europe
The European Bronze Age is characterized by bronze artifacts and the use of bronze implements. The regional Bronze Age succeeds the Neolithic, it starts with the Aegean Bronze Age 3200 BC...

, the "Sun cross
Sun cross
The sun cross, also known as the wheel cross, Odin's cross, or Woden's cross, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in artifacts of the Americas and Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.-Stone Age:...

" (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
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 Europe (Greco-Roman, Illyrian, Etruscan
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

, Baltic, Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic, Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, Georgian Bordjgali and Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

).
This prehistoric use seems to be reflected in the appearance of the symbol in various folk cultures of Europe.

Greco-Roman antiquity

Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean 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
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

, the three-legged triskele or triskelion
Triskelion
A triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, or any similar symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry. Both words are from Greek or , "three-legged", from prefix "τρι-" , "three times" + "σκέλος" , "leg"...

 and the rounded lauburu
Lauburu
The lauburu or Basque cross has four comma-shaped heads similar to the Japanese tomoe. It can be constructed with a compass and straightedge, beginning with the formation of a square template; each head can be drawn from a neighboring vertex of this template with two compass settings, with one...

. The swastika symbol is also known in these contexts by a number of names, especially gammadion.

In Greco-Roman
Art in Ancient Greece
The arts of ancient Greece have exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries all over the world, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture. In the West, the art of the Roman Empire was largely derived from Greek models...

 art and architecture, and in Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 and Gothic art
Gothic art
Gothic art was a Medieval art movement that developed in France out of Romanesque art in the mid-12th century, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, but took over art more completely north of the Alps, never quite effacing more classical...

 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
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 Ara Pacis
Ara Pacis
The Ara Pacis Augustae is an altar to Peace, envisioned as a Roman goddess...

. A design of interlocking swastikas is one of several tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

s on the floor of the cathedral of Amiens
Amiens
Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, north of Paris and south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy...

, 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.

Celtic antiquity

The bronze frontspiece of a ritual pre-Christian (c. 350-50 BC) shield found in the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

 near Battersea Bridge
Battersea Bridge
Battersea Bridge is a cast-iron and granite five-span cantilever bridge crossing the River Thames in London, England. It is situated on a sharp bend in the river, and links Battersea south of the river with Chelsea to the north...

 (hence "Battersea Shield
Battersea Shield
The Battersea Shield is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic military equipment found in Britain. It is a sheet bronze covering of a wooden shield decorated in La Tène style...

") is embossed with 27 swastikas in bronze and red enamel. An Ogham
Ogham
Ogham is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to write the Old Irish language, and occasionally the Brythonic language. Ogham is sometimes called the "Celtic Tree Alphabet", based on a High Medieval Bríatharogam tradition ascribing names of trees to the individual letters.There are roughly...

 stone found in Anglish, Co Kerry (CIIC 141) was modified into an early Christian gravestone, and was decorated with a cross pattée
Cross pattée
A cross pattée is a type of cross which has arms narrow at the centre, and broader at the perimeter. An early English example from the start of the age of heraldry proper A cross pattée (or "cross patty", known also as "cross formée/formy") is a type of cross which has arms narrow at the...

 and two swastikas. At the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor
Ilkley Moor
Ilkley Moor is part of Rombalds Moor, the moorland between Ilkley and Keighley in West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. The peat bogs rise to 402 m above sea level...

 in West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county within the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972....

, there is a swastika-shaped pattern engraved in a stone known as the Swastika Stone
Swastika Stone
The Swastika Stone is a stone adorned with a Swastika located on the Woodhouse Crag, on the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire. The design has a double outline with five curved arms enclosing several so-called 'cup' marks, the like of which can be found on other stones nearby.The design...

.

Germanic antiquity

The swastika shape (also called a fylfot
Fylfot
Fylfot or fylfot cross , is a synonym for swastika, sometimes used in Britain.However – at least in modern heraldry texts, such as Friar and Woodcock & Robinson – the fylfot differs somewhat from the archetypal form of the swastika: always upright and typically with truncated limbs, as...

) appears on various Germanic Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 and Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

 artifacts, such as the 3rd century Værløse Fibula from Zealand, Denmark, the Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 spearhead from Brest-Litovsk, Russia, the 9th century Snoldelev Stone
Snoldelev Stone
The Snoldelev Stone, listed as DR 248 in the Rundata catalog, is a 9th century runestone that was originally located at Snoldelev, Ramsø, Denmark.-Description:...

 from Ramsø
Ramsø
Until January 1, 2007 Ramsø was a municipality in the former Roskilde County on the island of Zealand in east Denmark. The municipality covered an area of 76 km², and had a total population of 9,320 . Its last mayor was Poul Lindor Nielsen, a member of the Social Democrats political party...

, Denmark, and numerous Migration Period bracteate
Bracteate
A bracteate is a flat, thin, single-sided gold medal worn as jewelry that was produced in Northern Europe predominantly during the Migration Period of the Germanic Iron Age...

s drawn left-facing or right-facing.

The pagan Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 ship burial
Ship burial
A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and the grave goods, or as a part of the grave goods itself. If the ship is very small, it is called a boat grave...

 at Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo, near to Woodbridge, in the English county of Suffolk, is the site of two 6th and early 7th century cemeteries. One contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, now held in the British...

, England, contained numerous items bearing the swastika, now housed in the collection of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
The MAA : Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge houses the University's collections of local antiquities, together with archaeological and ethnographic artefacts from around the world...

. The Swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword belt found at Bifrons in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, in a grave of about the 6th century.

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorized that the swastika symbol was associated with Thor
Thor
In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility...

, possibly representing his hammer Mjolnir - symbolic of thunder - and possibly being connected to the Bronze Age sun cross
Sun cross
The sun cross, also known as the wheel cross, Odin's cross, or Woden's cross, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in artifacts of the Americas and Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.-Stone Age:...

. 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
Funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...

. The runic inscription on the 8th-century Sæbø sword
Sæbø sword
The Sæbø sword is an early 9th-century Viking sword, found in a barrow at Sæbø, Vik, Sogn, Norway in 1825. It is now held at the Bergen Museum in Bergen, Norway. The sword has an enigmatic inscription on its blade, which has been identified as a runic inscription incorporating a swastika symbol...

 has been taken as evidence of the swastika as a symbol of Thor in Norse paganism
Norse paganism
Norse paganism is the religious traditions of the Norsemen, a Germanic people living in the Nordic countries. Norse paganism is therefore a subset of Germanic paganism, which was practiced in the lands inhabited by the Germanic tribes across most of Northern and Central Europe in the Viking Age...

.

Baltic

The swastika is one of the most common symbols used throughout Baltic art. In Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 the symbol is known as either Ugunskrusts, the "Fire cross" (rotating counter-clockwise), or Pērkonkrusts, the "Thunder cross" (rotating clock-wise), and was mainly associated with Pērkons, 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.

Slavic

In the Slavic tradition swastika is found only in the ornaments — such as embroidery patterns.

Currently, a common Slavic neo-pagans
Slavic Neopaganism
Slavic Neopaganism is a modern fakeloric, polytheistic, reconstructionistic, and Neopagan religion; its adherents call themselves Rodnovers , and consider themselves to be the legitimate continuation of pre-Christian Slavic religion.- Rebirth of Slavic spirituality :The pre-Christian religions...

 and neo-Nazis are frequently used the standard and eight-pointed ("kolovrat") swastika in his symbolics. They believe that swastika and kolovrat are ancient pagan Slavic symbols.

Sami

An object very much like a hammer or a double axe is depicted among the magical symbols on the drums of Sami
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 shamans, used in their religious ceremonies before Christianity was established. The name of the Sami thunder god was Horagalles
Horagalles
In Sami shamanism, Horagalles, also written Hora Galles and Thora Galles and often equated with Tiermes or Aijeke , is the thunder god. He is depicted as a wooden figure with a nail in the head, and with a hammer or occasionally on shaman drums, two hammers...

, 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
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...

, the symbol of Christ's victory over death. Some Christian churches built in the Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 and Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 eras are decorated with swastikas, carrying over earlier Roman designs. Swastikas are prominently displayed in a mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

 in the St. Sophia church of Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, 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
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. 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
Amiens
Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, north of Paris and south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy...

, France in the 13th century, is considered unlikely. The stole worn by a priest in the 1445 painting of the Seven Sacraments
Seven Sacraments Altarpiece
The Seven Sacraments Altarpiece is a fixed-wing triptych by the Early Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden and his workshop. It was painted from 1445 to 1450, probably for a church in Poligny, and is now in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp. It depicts the seven sacraments of the Roman...

 by Roger van der Weyden
Roger van der Weyden
Rogier van der Weyden or Rogier de le Pasture was an Early Flemish painter. His surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. Although his life was generally uneventful, he was highly successful and internationally famous in his...

 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
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe...

.

In the Polish First Republic the symbol of the swastika was also popular with the nobility. According to chronicles, the Rus'
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

 prince Oleg
Oleg of Novgorod
Oleg of Novgorod was a Varangian prince who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century....

, who in the 9th century attacked Constantinople
Rus'-Byzantine War (907)
The Rus'–Byzantine War of 907 is associated in the Primary Chronicle with the name of Oleg of Novgorod. The chronicle implies that it was the most successful military operation of the Kievan Rus' against the Byzantine Empire. Paradoxically, Greek sources do not mention it at all.- Primary Chronicle...

, 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
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

. 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.

An unusual swastika, composed of the Hebrew letters Aleph
Aleph
* Aleph or Alef is the first letter of the Semitic abjads descended from Proto-Canaanite, Arabic alphabet, Phoenician alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet-People:*Aleph , an Italo disco artist and alias of Dave Rodgers...

 and Resh
Resh
Resh is the twentieth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is one of a number of rhotic consonants: usually or , but also or in Hebrew....

, appears in the 18th century Kabbalistic
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 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
Mandala
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point...

-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, אוֹר, or "light".

Freemasons
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 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
Great Architect of the Universe
The Great Architect of the Universe is a conception of God discussed by many Christian theologians and apologists. As a designation it is used within Freemasonry to neutrally represent whatever Supreme Being to which each member individually holds in adherence...

, or Geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

.

Western use in the early 20th century

In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann was a German businessman and amateur archaeologist, and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns...

, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

. 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
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

movements, for which the swastika was a symbol of the "Aryan race
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

", a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

 with a Nordic master race
Master race
Master race was a phrase and concept originating in the slave-holding Southern US. The later phrase Herrenvolk , interpreted as 'master race', was a concept in Nazi ideology in which the Nordic peoples, one of the branches of what in the late-19th and early-20th century was called the Aryan race,...

 originating in northern Europe. Since its adoption by the National Socialist German Worker's Party of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, the swastika has been associated with Nazism, fascism, racism (white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

), the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in World War II, and the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 in much of the West. The swastika remains a core symbol of Neo-Nazi
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

 groups, and is used regularly by activist
Activism
Activism consists of intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing...

 groups to signify their opinion of supposed Nazi-like behavior of organizations and individuals they oppose.
The Benedictine choir school at Lambach Abbey
Lambach Abbey
Lambach Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Lambach in Austria.-History:A monastery was founded in about 1040 by Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg , which since 1056 has been a Benedictine abbey. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by...

, 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
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 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.
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
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 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.

Iceland

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
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

. 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.

Ireland

The Swastika Laundry
Swastika Laundry
The Swastika Laundry was a laundry founded in 1912, located on Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, a district of Dublin, Ireland. It was founded by John W. Brittain from Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim who was one of the “pioneers of the laundry business in Ireland” having founded the Metropolitan and White...

 was a laundry founded in 1912, located on Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge
Ballsbridge
Ballsbridge is a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, named for the bridge spanning the River Dodder on the south side of the city. The sign on the bridge still proclaims it as "Ball's Bridge" in recognition of the fact that the original bridge in this location was built and owned by a Mr...

, a district of Dublin, Ireland. In the fifties Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Theodor Böll was one of Germany's foremost post-World War II writers. Böll was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1967 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.- Biography :...

 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.

Finland

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
Tursaansydän
The tursaansydän or mursunsydän is an ancient symbol used in Northern Europe. It was especially popular in Lapland. Some say it was used on Lappish shaman drums...

 and mursunsydän in Finnish. Tursaansydän was often used until 18th century, when it was mostly replaced by a simple swastika.

The tursaansydän is used by scouts
Scouting
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 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 Finnish Air Force
Finnish Air Force
The Finnish Air Force is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. Its peacetime tasks are airspace surveillance, identification flights, and production of readiness formations for wartime conditions...

 uses the swastika as an emblem, originally introduced in 1918. The swastika was also used by the women's paramilitary organization Lotta Svärd
Lotta Svärd
Lotta Svärd was a Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women. During the Finnish Civil War it was associated with the Suojeluskunta. After the war Lotta Svärd was founded as a separate organisation on September 9, 1920. The name comes from a poem by Johan Ludvig Runeberg...

, which was banned in 1944 in accordance with the Moscow Armistice
Moscow Armistice
The Moscow Armistice was signed between Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other side on September 19, 1944, ending the Continuation War...

 between Finland and the allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.
The President of Finland
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 is the grand master of the Order of the White Rose
Order of the White Rose
The Order of the White Rose of Finland is one of three official orders in Finland, along with the Order of the Cross of Liberty, and the Order of the Lion of Finland. The President of Finland is the Grand Master of all three orders. The orders are administered by boards consisting of a chancellor,...

. 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
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic . His work was considered very important for the Finnish national identity...

. 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
Urho Kekkonen
Urho Kaleva Kekkonen , was a Finnish politician who served as Prime Minister of Finland and later as the eighth President of Finland . Kekkonen continued the “active neutrality” policy of his predecessor President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, a doctrine which came to be known as the “Paasikivi–Kekkonen...

 in 1963 after it became known that the President of France Charles De Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 was uncomfortable with the swastika collar.

Grand Cross
with star of
the Order of
the Cross of
Liberty

Also a design by Gallen-Kallela from 1918, the Cross of Liberty
Order of the Cross of Liberty
There are three official orders in Finland: the Order of the Cross of Liberty , the Order of the White Rose of Finland and the Order of the Lion of Finland. The President of Finland is the Grand Master of the two orders, and usually of the Order of the Cross of Liberty as well, Grand Mastership of...

 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.. The same Cross of liberty with the swastika is still seen on the coat of arms of Mikkeli
Mikkeli
Mikkeli is a town and municipality in Finland. It is located in what used to be the province of Eastern Finland and is part of the Southern Savonia region. The municipality has a population of and covers an area of of which is water...

, wherein marshal Mannerheim and the general headquarters were situated, in both the Winter war
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 and Continuation war
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

.

In December 2007, a silver replica of the WWII
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 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.

As the symbol of Nazism


In the wake of widespread popular usage
Western use of the Swastika in the early 20th century
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form or its mirrored left-facing form. Archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates from the Neolithic period and was first found in the Indus Valley Civilization of the Indian...

, 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.

In his 1925 work Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

,
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 wrote 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
Flag of Germany
The flag of Germany is a tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany: black, red, and gold....

 of the old German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

.) 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
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 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 Germanentums).

The use of the swastika was associated by Nazi theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people. Following the Nordicist
Nordic theory
The Nordic race is one of the racial subcategories into which the Caucasian race was divided by anthropologists in the first half of the 20th century...

 version of the Aryan invasion theory
Aryan invasion theory
The term Aryan invasion theory may refer to*migrational scenarios of prehistorical Indo-Aryan migrations*in 19th and early 20th century racialism:** Historical definitions of races in India** Aryan race*in late 20th century:**Out of India 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
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

. For Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

, 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
Master race
Master race was a phrase and concept originating in the slave-holding Southern US. The later phrase Herrenvolk , interpreted as 'master race', was a concept in Nazi ideology in which the Nordic peoples, one of the branches of what in the late-19th and early-20th century was called the Aryan race,...

. The use of the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 dates back to writings of Emile Burnouf
Emile Burnouf
Émile-Louis Burnouf was a leading nineteenth-century Orientalist and racialist whose ideas influenced the development of theosophy and Aryanism. He was a professor at the faculté de lettres at Nancy University, then principal of the French School at Athens from 1867 to 1875...

. Following many other writers, the German nationalist poet Guido von List
Guido von List
Guido Karl Anton List, better known as Guido von List was an Austrian/German poet, journalist, writer, businessman and dealer of leather goods, mountaineer, hiker, dramatist, playwright, and rower, but was most notable as an occultist and völkisch author who is seen as one of the most important...

 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
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

). 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
Thule Society
The Thule Society , originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum , was a German occultist and völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend...

 (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-de-lys.


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 Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

).

The swastika was used for badges and flags throughout Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, 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
    Hitler Youth
    The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

    );
  • a 45° black swastika with a white outline was painted on the tail of aircraft of the Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

    ;
  • a 45° black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a white disc (e.g., the German War Ensign);
  • 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.

  • a swastika with curved outer arms forming a broken circle, as worn by the SS Nordland Division
    11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
    The 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, also known as Kampfverband Waräger, Germanische-Freiwilligen-Division, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 11 or 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland, was a Waffen SS, Panzergrenadier division recruited from foreign volunteers...

    .


There were attempts to amalgamate Nazi and Hindu use of the swastika, notably by the French writer Savitri Devi who declared Hitler an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 (see Nazi mysticism
Nazi mysticism
Speculation about Nazism and occultism has become part of popular culture since 1959. Aside from several popular documentaries, there are numerous books on the topic, most notably The Morning of the Magicians and The Spear of Destiny ....

).

Post-WWII stigmatization in Western countries

Because of its use by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, the swastika since the 1930s has been largely associated with Nazism and white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 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
Steven Heller (graphic design)
Steven Heller is an American art director, journalist, critic, author, and editor who specializes on topics related to graphic design....

, of the School of Visual Arts
School of Visual Arts
The School of Visual Arts , is a proprietary art school located in Manhattan, New York City, and is widely considered to be one of the leading art schools in the United States. It was established in 1947 by co-founders Silas H. Rhodes and Burne Hogarth as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School and...

, 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.

Germany

The German (and Austrian) postwar criminal code
Strafgesetzbuch
Strafgesetzbuch is the German name for Penal Code and is abbreviated to StGB.- History :In Germany the Strafgesetzbuch goes back to the Penal Code of the German Empire passed in the year 1871 which was largely identical to the Penal Code of the North German Confederation.This Reichsstrafgesetzbuch ...

 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 illustrations 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
Esprit Holdings
Esprit Holdings Limited is a publicly owned manufacturer of apparel, footwear, accessories, jewellery and housewares under the Esprit label. The company is headquartered in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and Ratingen , Germany. In the 2007–2008 business year, Esprit Holdings Limited generated a worldwide...

 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
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 label and mail order store "Nix Gut Records" and confiscated merchandise depicting crossed-out swastikas and fists smashing swastikas. In 2006 the Stade
Stade
Stade is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany and part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region . It is the seat of the district named after it...

 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
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

, Claudia Roth
Claudia Roth
Claudia Benedikta Roth is a German Green Party politician and one of the two current party chairs, together with Cem Özdemir.- Biography :...

 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 March 15, 2007, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany
Federal Court of Justice of Germany
The Federal Court of Justice of Germany in Karlsruhe is the highest court in the system of ordinary jurisdiction in Germany. It is the supreme court in all matters of criminal and private law...

 (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
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 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
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 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
    Arrow Cross
    A cross whose arms end in arrowheads is called a "cross barby" or "cross barbee" in the traditional terminology of heraldry. In Christian use, the ends of this cross resemble the barbs of fish hooks, or fish spears...

    , punishable by fine. Display for academic, educational, artistic or journalistic reasons is allowed. Note that the communist symbols of hammer and sickle
    Hammer and sickle
    The hammer and sickle is a part of communist symbolism and its usage indicates an association with Communism, a Communist party, or a Communist state. It features a hammer and a sickle overlapping each other. The two tools are symbols of the industrial proletariat and the peasantry; placing them...

     and the red star
    Red star
    A red star, five-pointed and filled, is an important ideological and religious symbol which has been used for various purposes, such as: state emblems, flags, monuments, ornaments, and logos.- Symbol of communism :...

     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 offence 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
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

     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
    Kuna Yala
    Guna Yala is an autonomous territory or comarca in Panama, inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people.The name means "Guna-land" or "Guna mountain" in the Kuna language...

     autonomous territory of Panama
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

     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
    Nazism
    Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

     party (this version subsequently fell into disuse).

Media

In 2010, Microsoft officially spoke out against the use of the swastika in the first-person shooter
First-person shooter
First-person shooter is a video game genre that centers the gameplay on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through first-person perspective; i.e., the player experiences the action through the eyes of a protagonist. Generally speaking, the first-person shooter shares common traits with other...

 Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released worldwide on November 9, for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii consoles, with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space. Announced on April 30, 2010,...

. 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
Xbox Live
Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft Corporation. It is currently the only online gaming service on consoles that charges users a fee to play multiplayer gaming. It was first made available to the Xbox system in 2002...

 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
Reductio ad Hitlerum
Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, is an ad hominem or ad misericordiam argument whereby an opponent's view is compared to a view that would be held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party...

; examples include the cover of Stuart Eizenstat's 2003 book Imperfect Justice, publicity materials for Constantin Costa-Gavras
Costa-Gavras
Costa-Gavras, is a Greek filmmaker, who lives and works in France, best known for films with overt political themes, most famously the fast-paced thriller, Z...

's 2002 film Amen, and a billboard that was erected opposite the U.S. Interests Section in Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Cuba, in 2004, which juxtaposed images of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Beginning in 2004, human rights violations in the form of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, sodomy, and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq came to public attention...

 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
Lynbrook, New York
Lynbrook is a village in Nassau County, New York, USA. The population was 19,427 at the 2010 census. The Village of Lynbrook is inside the Town of Hempstead. The Village of Lynbrook's current mayor is William Hendrick....

 bought a set of Pokémon
Pokémon
is a media franchise published and owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video...

 cards imported from Japan in 1999, his parents complained after finding that two of the cards contained the Manji
Manji
Manji or mangi may refer to:*The Japanese name of the 卍 character , see swastika/sauwastika* Manji , a Japanese era name* A type of sai, a traditional Okinawan weapon* A kind of chiefship found among the Chaga tribe of Tanzania...

symbol which is the mirror image of the Nazi swastika. This also caused a lot of concern amongst fans from Jewish communities. Nintendo
Nintendo
is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

 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
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 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 problems."

In 2002, Christmas cracker
Christmas cracker
Christmas crackers or bon-bons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They are also popular in Ireland. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of...

s containing plastic toy panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

s 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, which include the swastika.

South Asia

In the Indosphere
Indosphere
Indosphere is a subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman languages as defined by linguist James Matisoff, which includes languages that are typologically and morphologically a closeness to Indo-Aryan languages...

 (South Asia, Greater India
Greater India
Greater India is a term that refers to the historical spread of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent...

), 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
Ahmedabad Stock Exchange
Ahmedabad Stock Exchange or ASE is the second oldest exchange of India located in the city of Ahmedabad in the western part of the country. It is recognized by Securities Contract Act, 1956 as permanent 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
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

 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.Interpretations of the Vedic scriptures have in recent times have pointed out to the erroneous use of counter clock motion swastika in Hindu auspicious rituals that were used to evoke the 'Shakti' in tantric rituals.

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
Hirosaki, Aomori
is a city located in southwest Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It is a castle town and was the Tsugaru clan ruled the 100,000 koku tozama han Hirosaki Domain from Hirosaki Castle during the Edo period. The city is currently a regional commercial center and the largest producer of apples in Japan...

 in Aomori Prefecture
Aomori Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku Region. The capital is the city of Aomori.- History :Until the Meiji Restoration, the area of Aomori prefecture was known as Mutsu Province....

 uses this symbol as official emblem.

In Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, 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
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

. President Emomali Rahmonov
Emomali Rahmonov
Emomalii Rahmon has served as the head of state of the Republic of Tajikistan since 1992, under the position of President since 1994.-Biography:...

 declared the swastika an Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 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."

New religious movements

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
    Theosophical Society
    The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

     uses a swastika as part of its seal, along with an Aum
    Aum
    Om or Aum Om or Aum Om or Aum (also , written in Devanāgari as and as , in Sanskrit known as (lit. "to sound out loudly"), ', or ' (also as ') (lit. "Auṃ form/syllable"), is a sacred/mystical syllable in the Dharmic or Indian religions, i.e...

    , a hexagram, a star of David
    Star of David
    The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

    , an Ankh
    Ankh
    The ankh , also known as key of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata, was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "eternal life", a triliteral sign for the consonants ʻ-n-ḫ...

     and an Ouroboros
    Ouroboros
    The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The name originates from within Greek language; οὐρά meaning "tail" and βόρος meaning "eating", thus "he who eats the tail"....

    . 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
    Raëlism
    Raëlism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim...

    , 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
    Star of David
    The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

     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 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
    Tantra
    Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

    -based new religious movement
    New religious movement
    A new religious movement is a religious community or ethical, spiritual, or philosophical group of modern origin, which has a peripheral place within the dominant religious culture. NRMs may be novel in origin or they may be part of a wider religion, such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, in...

     Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga, organizationally known as Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha , meaning the samgha for the propagation of the marga of ananda , is a social and spiritual movement founded in Jamalpur, Bihar, India in 1955 by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar .Ánanda Márga followers describe Ánanda Márga as a...

     (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 culture.
  • The Falun Gong
    Falun Gong
    Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline first introduced in China in 1992 by its founder, Li Hongzhi, through public lectures. It combines the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with the moral philosophy...

     qigong
    Qigong
    Qigong or chi kung is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation...

     movement uses a symbol that features a large swastika surrounded by four smaller (and rounded) ones, interspersed with yin-and-yang
    Yin and yang
    In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

     symbols. The usage is taken from traditional Chinese symbolism, and here alludes to a chakra
    Chakra
    Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

    -like portion of the esoteric human anatomy, located in the stomach.
  • The Odinic Rite
    Odinic Rite
    The Odinic Rite is a religious organization, practicing a form of Northern Indo European religion termed Odinism after the chief god of Norse mythology, Odin...

     claims the fylfot
    Fylfot
    Fylfot or fylfot cross , is a synonym for swastika, sometimes used in Britain.However – at least in modern heraldry texts, such as Friar and Woodcock & Robinson – the fylfot differs somewhat from the archetypal form of the swastika: always upright and typically with truncated limbs, as...

     as a holy symbol of Odinism
    Odinism
    Odinism is a type of Germanic Neopaganism.Odinism may also refer to:*Norse paganism** the cult of Odin- See also :*Odinist Fellowship*Odinic Rite*The Odin Brotherhood*Wotanism, a Völkisch / White Nationalist movement*Wodenism...

    , citing the pre-Christian Germanic use of the symbol
    Swastika (Germanic Iron Age)
    The swastika design is known from artefacts of various cultures since the Neolithic, and it recurs with some frequency on artefacts dated to the Germanic Iron Age, i.e...

    .


  • Brigid's cross
    Brigid's cross
    Brigid's cross, Brighid's cross, or Brigit's cross, often with the "Saint" prefix, or Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde, though not recorded before the seventeenth century, is an Irish symbol. Though a Christian symbol, it possibly derives from the pagan sunwheel. It is usually made from...

  • Camunian rose
    Camunian rose
    The Camunian rose is the name given to a particular symbol represented among the rock carvings of Val Camonica. It consists of a meandering closed line that winds around nine cup marks...

  • Celtic cross
    Celtic cross
    A Celtic cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a ring surrounding the intersection. In the Celtic Christian world it was combined with the Christian cross and this design was often used for high crosses – a free-standing cross made of stone and often richly decorated...

  • Fascist symbolism
    Fascist symbolism
    As there were many different manifestations of fascism, especially during the interwar years, there were also many different symbols of Fascist movements...

  • The Red Swastika Society
    Red Swastika Society
    The Red Swastika Society is a voluntary association founded in China in 1922 by Qian Nengxun , Du Bingyin and Li Jiabai as the philanthropic branch of the Daodeshe "Society of Dao and Virtue", a syncretist Daoist school, which changed at the same time its name to Daoyuan...

     (China)

  • Solar symbols
  • Sun cross
    Sun cross
    The sun cross, also known as the wheel cross, Odin's cross, or Woden's cross, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in artifacts of the Americas and Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.-Stone Age:...

  • Swastika curve
    Swastika curve
    The swastika curve is the name given by Cundy and Rollett to the quartic plane curve with the Cartesian equation y^4-x^4 = xy,\, or, equivalently, the polar equationr^2 = - \tan/2. \,...

  • Swastika Stone
    Swastika Stone
    The Swastika Stone is a stone adorned with a Swastika located on the Woodhouse Crag, on the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire. The design has a double outline with five curved arms enclosing several so-called 'cup' marks, the like of which can be found on other stones nearby.The design...

  • Tursaansydän
    Tursaansydän
    The tursaansydän or mursunsydän is an ancient symbol used in Northern Europe. It was especially popular in Lapland. Some say it was used on Lappish shaman drums...



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