Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year... WTF?

I found this postcard in a box of old family records a few years ago, and just stumbled upon it again in my New Year's cleanup:

Yes, that's what you think it is... but it's also not what you think it is. Here's the back:

Many of you will already be aware that the swastika is a very ancient symbol that was appropriated by the Nazis. That had already happened before 1922, when this card was sent, but it was much better known at the time as a charming old "good luck" symbol.

Here are some other examples:

The innocence of the symbol would soon end, in the west anyway. The swastika is still a popular religious and folkloric insignia in Asia. You can even see it on packaged goods at the Chinese grocery store.

But it still freaks me out. It's just a symbol, but it's one that we've been raised to have a visceral reaction to. From health, wealth and happiness to hate, genocide and war. It's amazing that a little cross could carry so much baggage.

Here's to a year ahead with as little evil as possible.


  1. Odd timing! I was visiting my East Indian mother-in-law yesterday. She's just been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and given two months to live. So we were sorting through her jewellery, and she was telling stories about each piece, when she pulls out this 22k gold ruby encrusted Swastika. The workmanship was beautiful - it had been made for her grandmother. But it still looked "ugly". SHe graciously told me I could melt it down and create something else for my daughter. I'm not sure what to do.

  2. Wow. Coincidence. But I'm so sorry to hear that news, suze.

  3. FYI
    Swastika, postmarked 1910 Description:
    "postcard with ancient swastika symbol mailed June 1, 1910 from Rochester, New York to J B Merrow, Fair Haven, Connecticut"
    Source: eBay

  4. what i remember from some dollar dvd kung fu movie is that the inside of the temple had swastikas on the walls.

    this symbol was also use by some of southwest indians.

    then the u-no-hoo had to screw it up!


  5. I'm not sure, but I seem to remember being taught in school that some forms of Hinduism (if there is more than one type, sorry I'm not terribly worldly) used a reverse-swastika as a symbol for peace.