The Swastika: The Earliest Known Symbol & its Migrations
Definitions, Description & Origin
The Swastika was occasionally called in the French language, in earlier times, Croix gammée or Gammadion, from its resemblance to a combination of four of the Greek letters of that name, and it is was named by count Goblet d'Alviella in his late work, "La Migration des Symboles." It was called Croix cramponnée, Croix patté, Croix à crochet. but the consensus even of French etymologists favors the name Swastika.
The Swastika used to be vulgarly called in Scandinavia the hammer of Thor, and Thor's hammer-mark, or the hammer-mark, but this name properly belongs to the mark .
Ludwig Müller gives it as his opinion that the Swastika has no connection with the Thor hammer. The best Scandinavian authors report the "Thor hammer" to be the same as the Greek tau (fig.5),
the same form as the Roman and English capital T. The Scandinavian name is Mjolnir, the crusher or mallet.
The Greek, Latin, and Tau crosses are represented in Egyptian hieroglyphics by a hammer or mallet, giving the idea of crushing, pounding, or striking, and so an instrument of justice, an avenger of wrong, (3) hence standing for Horus and other gods. (4) Similar symbolic meanings have been given to these crosses in ancient classic countries of the Orient. (5)
SYMBOLISM AND INTERPRETATION.
Many theories have been presented concerning the symbolism of the Swastika, its relation to ancient deities and its representation of certain qualities. In the estimation of certain writers it has been respectively the emblem of Zeus, of Baal, of the sun, of the sun-god, of the sun-chariot of Agni the fire-god, of Indra the rain-god, of the sky, the sky-god, and finally the deity of all deities the great God, the Maker and Ruler of the Universe. It has also been held to symbolize light or the god of light, of the forked lightning, and of water. It is believed by some to have been the oldest Aryan symbol. In the estimation of others it represents Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.
p. 45; Haddon, "Evolution in Art," p. 288. [Back]
2. Page 12. [Back]
3. "La Migration des Symboles," pp.21,22. [Back]
4. "le Culte de al Croix avant Jesus-Christ," in the Correspondant, October 25,1889, and in Science Catholique, February 15,1890, p. 163 [Back]
5. Same authorities. [Back]