The history of the swastika: From a sign of luck and fortune to a symbol of evil

Three iterations of the swastika. From left: a swastika on a Nazi arm band, a swastika next to the Norse god Odin, and a swastika on a Buddha statue

The swastika is now an infamous sign of hatred, extremism, and genocide. 
But it has a long history and has been used by cultures worldwide to signify good fortune and luck. 
Carlsberg and Finnish Air used it in their branding before the Nazis hijacked it. 

Last week, historians in Denmark announced they had discovered the oldest evidence of people worshipping the Norse god of war and death, Odin.

Next to the portrait of Odin was a small swastika-like sign, once a signifier of peace, wealth, and fortune.

Today, the swastika is seen by many as a symbol of hatred, extremism, and danger. But it has a long and diverse history that stretches way beyond its cruel co-option by Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi party a century ago.

The origins of the swastika

The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, which translates to “good fortune” or “wellbeing.”

The oldest known use of the swastika is seen on a 15,000-year-old mammoth ivory bird statue discovered in 1908 by Ukrainian scientist Federik Volkov.

On the chest of the bird, held in The National Museum of the History of Ukraine, Kyiv, is an engraving of joined-up swastikas, according to the BBC. The statue was discovered alongside a range of “phallic objects,” suggesting the swastika was used as a good luck symbol to invite fertility.

The swastika in Asia

Today, the swastika is still widely used in a number of Indian religions.

In Jainism, the swastika represents the four states of existence: Heavenly beings, Human beings, Hellish beings, and subhuman life.

In the Zoroastrian …read more

Source:: Businessinsider

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