In today’s communication era when there is a possibility for every individual to travel to any country and communicate with anyone, we think that in ancient times people were not capable to share their culture and thoughts.
But when we start analyzing the ancient scripture we find that there are so many similarities between the cultures whether it is about ancient flood or it is about universe creation mythology. It is almost the same in every culture which was thousands of miles apart by the sea.
Another great example is pyramids and stone locking mechanisms, almost the same kind of architectural structures are present throughout the planet.
In the same line, there is an ancient Vedic symbol that symbolizes peace and harmony. It has been flourished in multiple civilizations for more than 15000 years, and it has also been found engraved in many ancient artifacts during various archaeological excavations.
While doing research for this article, I have found that there is no such place where this symbol is not present. It is visible in every kind of religious monument, it was used in pottery, it is part of used for daily worship practices, and has been used in war accessories like the helmet and sword. It is called the Swastika.
Meaning of Swastika
Normally if we see the symbol of the swastika, is a combination of a few straight line, sometimes a circle and sometimes the cross. These are very simple forms for any symbol which can be easily made and might have been invented and re-invented in every age of primitive man and in every quarter of the globe.
But the way Swastika has been adopted by various cultures throughout antiquity without changing the purpose and meaning, it certainly must have a definite intention and a continuous or consecutive meaning, the knowledge of which passed from person to person, from tribe to tribe, from people to people, and from nation to nation, until, with possibly-unchanged meanings, it has finally circled the globe.
It was formerly spelled s-v-a-s-t-i-c-a and s-u-a-s-t-i-k-a, but later spelling, both English and French, is s-w-a-s-t-i-k-a. The definition and etymology of the word are thus given in Littre’s French Dictionary.
A Sanskrit word signifying happiness, pleasure, good luck. It is composed of Su “good,” and the Asti, “being” “good being” with the suffix ka.
Different Names of Swastika
The Swastika has been called by different names in different countries, though nearly all countries have in later years accepted the ancient Sanskrit name of Swastika; and this name is recommended as the most definite and certain, being now the most general and, indeed, almost universal. There are a few alternative names of the Swastika which have been used in different countries.
- China – Wan
- England – Flyfot
- Germany – Hakenkreuz
- Greece – Tetrakelion and Gammadion
- Japan – Manji
- India – Swastika
Types of Swastika
Symbolism and Interpretation
The shape of Swastika is very fundamental and one can easily connect with it as it may represent four directions, four qualities, four phases of life, or our galaxy itself. Because the Swastika is used worldwide by almost every civilization then there should be some specific meaning which has been accepted by everyone. As of today, there is no concrete explanation that can explain the purpose and meaning of Swastika. We try to understand a few philosophy from the various countries.
Aztec Belief on Swastika
Aztec swastika is one of the important forms of Swastika with various interpretations. It represents
- The four stages of life-Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood, Old age
- The four directions North, West, South, East.
- The Symbols of Tecpatl, Flint, Calli, House, Acatl, Cane, Tochtli, Rabbit.
- The four Colors- Red, Yellow, Blue, Green used in the Calendar system
- The four elements- Fire, Earth, Air, Water.
The Aztec people observed that the combined midnight positions of the Ursa Major or Minor (Sapt rishi tara Mandal), at the four divisions of the year, made a Symmetrical swastika, the forms of which were identical with the different types of Swastika.
Production, Destruction & Cause
Ancient philosopher Kapila explained that destruction means going back to the cause. If any normal table is destroyed, it will go back to its cause, to those fine forms and particles which, combined, made this form which we call a table.
If a man dies, he will go back to the elements which gave him his body; if this earth dies, it will go back to the elements which gave It form. This is what is called destruction, going back to the cause. Therefore we learn that the effect is the same as the cause, not different. It is only in another form.
The swastika is an extraordinary example of this theory. Its rotation showed the relation between construction and destruction which is a continuous circle of life.
As per Hindu philosophy, Swastika opposite directions represent the Pravitti and Nivritti which are the two elements that define human purpose. It is a kind of guide and reminder that how one should live his life and what to remind during his lifetime.
Pravritti means to live amidst worldly duties and interests with the senses and actions directed primarily towards the external world. Nivritti, on the other hand, is the path of “turning back”, the path of turning within towards spiritual contemplation and placing God at the center of our existence after fulfilling our familial and professional duties.
Both Pravitti and Nivritti are absolutely required for the universe to work, it’s just that Pravitti is about choices that we semi-consciously make (through causality) while Nivritti is about the choices that we consciously make.
This can be a major reason for using the swastika symbol in every Hindu custom and celebration. This is to remind every person what to choose from the Pravitti and Nivritti in the present stage of life.
- Ancient Hindu Symbol Swastika Present Everywhere in the World
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Top 10 Oldest Swastika
There are thousands of ancient Swastika that have been unearthed till now but here I am presenting the top 10 oldest Swastika made by ancient civilizations.
Mezin Paleolithic Bird with Swastika – 13000 B.C
If you want to see just how deeply rooted the swastika pattern, a good place to start is Kiev where the National Museum of the History of Ukraine has a small ivory figurine of a female bird.
Made from the tusk of a mammoth, it was found in 1908 at the Paleolithic settlement of Mezin near the Russian border.
On the torso of the bird is engraved an elaborate pattern of joined up swastikas. It’s the oldest identified swastika pattern in the world and has been radiocarbon-dated to an astonishing 15,000 years ago.
Swastika, India – 10000 BC
One of the parallel pieces of evidence and a more matured form of Swastika is evident late Palaeolithic-early Mesolithic form is simultaneously evident in the Jaora Art Form, Madhya Pradesh, India belong to 10000 BCE or even earlier.
Dyadic Swastika in the cave “Devetak” – 6000 B.C
Dyads of swastikas are decorating a flat plate, found in the cave “Devetak” near the city of Lovech. It is dated 6000 years B.C. For the Neolithic cultures, the swastika is an extremely rare archeological find and the dyadic swastika (facing left and right) is a unique discovery.
The fact that the symbols that are drawn both facings left and right mean that the left direction is considered a complement to the right direction of movement. What could it mean the combination of both symbols? Does it mean maintenance of equilibrium between the creation and the destruction, between the sacred and the profane? If it is so, the world would be in a permanent unchangeable state of repose.
The Samarra Swastika – 4000 BC
The bowl was excavated as Samarra by Ernst Herzfeld in 1911-1914. The design consists of a rim, a circle of eight fish, and four fish swimming towards the center being caught by four birds.
As is typical of cultures from this region, the use of a base six numerical system can be seen in the lines surrounding the bowl, so that there are a total of 120 lines or four quarters with 30 lines each. At the center is a swastika symbol.
The bowl was broken, part of the rim is missing, and one crack ran right across the central symbol so that the swastika symbol should be considered a reconstruction.
Bulgarian Swastika – 5000 BC
A pottery fragment with the image of a swastika, dating to 7,000 years ago, and an ancient female adornment with a phallus are among the artifacts shown for the first time as part of the on-going exhibition “Gods, Symbols and Ancient Signs” in the museum in Vratsa in north-western Bulgaria.
The swastika-decorated clay pottery fragment was found by archaeologists during excavations of a ritual pit around the village of Altimir near the town of Vratsa. The ancient find dates back to before the Copper Age and was used prominently by many civilizations for many millennia.
Indus Valley Swastika – 3000 BC
Indus Valley Civilization Swastika Seal, 2500-2000 BCE, found at Mohenjodaro, displayed at National Museum, New Delhi, India. As per archaeological research, seals appear in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. with the rise of the cities and associated administrators. Square and rectangular seals were made from fired steatite. The soft soapstone was carved, polished, and then fired in a kiln to whiten and harden the surface.
Majiayao Culture Swastika, China – 2500 BC
Painted pottery jar with geometric design belongs to Majiayao Culture Neolithic Period which is placed in Hong Kong Museum of Art. The Majiayao culture was a group of Neolithic communities from northern Sichuan, China who existed from 3300 to 2000 BC. This was regarded as a peak of pottery manufacturing at that time.
Anasazi Swastika – 1500 BC
The Anasazi people built dwellings in caves and recesses in canyon walls throughout the southwest United States from 1500 B.C. to 1350 A.D. They left many red-haired Caucasoid mummies with swastika artifacts, and even have a site called “Mummy Cave”, however any further study on their remains is prohibited.
Anasazi is a Navajo word that means “ancient stranger”, “enemy ancestor”, or “ancient enemy.” The Navajo Indians began occupying the area in the early 1700s, and also prominently used the Swastika.
Mycenaean Swastika, Santorini – 700 BC
This ancient Mycenaean doll with Swastika symbol was found at the site of ancient Thera. Thera is an antique city on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messavouno mountain on the Greek island of Santorini.
It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD.
The village of Thera is near another paleolithic village name Akrotiri which is also part of the current Santorini which was got abandoned after the sequence of earth quack and volcanic eruption.
Attic Pyxis, Greece – 700 BC
The vase dates from the third phase of the Late Geometric period (LG III, 760-770 BC), during which human figures made their reappearance in the iconography of Greek vase
The pyxis was a shallow and circular lidded receptacle used by women for cosmetics and jewelry. The knob usually found on the lid is replaced here by a remarkable sculpted group, apparently representing a quadriga (four horses harnessed abreast to a two-wheeled chariot).
Why people were using this symbol? What was the intention behind it? Nobody knows. Is it really a common symbol across the globe or it is a mere coincidence?
There is no direct evidence available by which the migration of symbols, arts, or peoples in prehistoric times can be proved because the events are beyond the pale of history. Who developed Swastika first, it remains a mystery.
We have seen in this article (top oldest 1 & 2 Swastika), almost at the same time Swastika was used in two different continents which were apart by a great distance. There might be the possibility that they invented their Swastika separately and later when migration started, everyone agreed with one common symbol. But how it happened, no one knows.
There is enough information present in ancient scriptures about Swastika and we have found enough evidence in the archaeological excavation as well which makes Swastika one unique symbol across all the civilizations that have been accepted by everyone mythologically and historically (See image “Distribution of Swastika).
But the question is open to me. Why swastika was accepted in so many countries, whereas we humans create conflict in everything when it comes to our faith and religion then how did this symbol succeed in being accepted by so many different civilizations. If you know the answer or have a clue, please share with me in the comments section.
- The swastika, the earliest known symbol, and its migrations; with observations on the migration of certain industries in prehistoric times by Thomas Wilson
Mezin discovered in Ukrain is the oldest identified swastika pattern in the world and has been radiocarbon-dated to an astonishing 15,000 years ago.
One of the parallel pieces of evidence and a more mature form of Swastika is evident in the Jaora Art Form, Madhya Pradesh, India belong to 10000 BCE or even earlier.
A Sanskrit word signifying happiness, pleasure, good luck. It is composed of Su “good,” and the Asti, “being” “good being“
A map showing the distribution of Swastika in prehistory
Swastika symbolizes peace and harmony. It has been flourished in multiple civilizations for more than 15000 years. A Sanskrit word signifying happiness, pleasure, good luck. It is composed of Su “good,” and the Asti, “being” “good being“
The swastika, the earliest known symbol, and its migrations; with observations on the migration of certain industries in prehistoric times by Thomas Wilson