Permanence of Patterns – the Swastika symbol

This is my second article about permanence of patterns illustrated in mosaic art. In this one, we will review the Swastika symbol.

A very ancient symbol

The earliest known use of the swastika symbol was discovered in Ukraine carved on a 11,000-year-old ivory figurine of a bird made from mammoth tusk.

Paleolithic Bird decorated with Swastika patterns, carved from a mammoth tusk., Mezin, Ukraine, 11,000 BC

Paleolithic Bird, Mezin, Ukraine, 11,000 BC

The Swastika pattern used on this bird is as follows :

Swastika pattern, Palelolithic bird, Mezin, UKraine, ca 11,000 BC

Swastika pattern, Mezin Palelolithic bird

 

Closer to us, Greek painters used it on some of their gorgeous vases :

Amphora with trifid neck and handles Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

6th Cent BC Greek Amphora

 

And it was later abundantly used in Greek and Roman mosaics

At times in a simplified way

Opus signinum svastiska Uzes, ancient UCETIA, France.

Opus Signinum, Uzes, France.

Sometimes in more intricate ones.

Cornmer of the man Atrium mosaic, Uzes, ancient Ucetia, France

Opus tessellatum from the same villa, Uzes, France.

Opus tessellatum svstiska mosaic, Rudston Roman Villa, UK

Opus Tesselatum Swastiska, Rudston, UK

And at times in the most stunning manner !

MosaicBlues: Emperor Hadrian's Mosaic of the Doves

Emperor Hadrian’s mosaic of the doves. 2nd cent. AD

 

A benevolent meaning

From its earliest apparition, the swastika symbol is believed to have been positive and encouraging of life. Its modern name, derived from Sanskrit svastika, means “conducive to well-being.” It has been used by many religions and cultures around the world with many different beneficial meanings and purposes.

Corruption of a symbol

In 1920 Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the center of the flag of the Nazi Party, which later rose to power in Germany. By 1945, the symbol had become associated with World War II, military brutality, fascism, and genocide—spurred by Nazi Germany’s attempted totalitarian conquest of Europe.

Since then, the swastika has become stigmatized as a symbol of hatred and racial bias. It is frequently used by white-supremacy groups whose members forgot how their grandparents fought and died to eradicate the Nazi ideology.

Future of the Swastika symbol

Because a symbol has become loaded with very negative meaning and emotions does not necessarily mean it is forever doomed. We tend to believe that the last century of our world history conditions everything because we have a very short term vision of things.

The Swastika has been around for well over 10,000 years, only in the West has it acquired its negative aura. It is a very powerful, and beautiful symbol when used in association with other patterns or designs.

 

Swastika symbol design inspired by a mosaic from Cherchell, Algeria, ancient Caesarea

Design inspired a mosaic from Cherchell- Algeria

 

Who knows, maybe one day our great great grandchildren  will enjoy its use in their art and architecture anew.

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