The Swastika: The Earliest Known Symbol & its Migrations
Dispersion of the Swastika
life, a multitude of blessings, great happiness,” ect.’ as is said in French, “mille pardons,” mille remerciments,” a thousand thanks , etc. During a visit to the Chinese legation in the city of Washington, while this paper was in progress, the author met one of the attaches, Mr. Chung, dressed in his robes of state; his outer garment was of moire silk. The pattern woven in the fabric consisted of a large circle with certain marks therein, prominent among which were two Swastikas, one turned to the right, the other to the left. The name given to the sign was as reported above, wan, and the signification was “longevity,” “long life,” “many years.” Thus was shown that in far as well as near countries in modern as well as ancient times, this sign stood for blessing, good wishes, and, by a slight extension, for good luck.
The author conferred with the Chinese minister, Yang Yu, with the request that he should furnish any appropriate information concerning the Swastika in China. In due course the author received the following letter and accompanying notes with drawings:
* * * I have the pleasure to submit abstracts from historical and literary works on the origin of the Swastika in China and the circumstances connected with it in Chinese ancient history. I have had this paper translated into English and illustrated by India-ink drawings. The Chinese copy is made by Mr. Ho Yen-Shing, the first secretary of the legation, translation by Mr. Chung, and drawings by Mr. Li.
With assurance of my high
esteem, I am,
Very cordially, Yang Yu.
Buddhist philosophers consider simple characters as half incomplete characters and compound characters as complete characters, while the Swastika is regarded as a natural formation. A Buddhist priest of the Tang Dynasty, Tao Shih by name, in a chapter of his work entitled Fa Yuen Chu Liu, on the original Buddha, describes him as having this mark on his breast and sitting on a high lily of unnumerable petals. [Pl. 1]
Empress Wu (684-704 A.D.), of the Tang Dynasty, invented a number of new forms for characters already in existence, amongst which was the word for sun, for moon, for star, and so on. These characters where once very extensively used in ornamental writing, and even now the word sun may be found in many of the famous stone inscriptions of that age, which have been preserved to us up to the present day. [Pl.2.]
The history of the Tang Dynasty (620-906 A.D.), by Lui Hsu and others of the Tsin Dynasty, records a decree issued by Emperor Tai Tsung (763-779 A.D.) forbidding the use of the Swastika on silk fabrics manufactured for any purpose. [Pl.3.]
Fung Tse, of the Tang Dynasty, records a practice among the people of Loh-yang who endeavor, on the 7th of the 7th month of each year, to obtain spiders to weave the Swastika on their web. Kung Ping-Chung, of the Sung Dynasty, says that the people of Loh-yang believe it is to be good luck to find the Swastika woven by spiders over fruits or melons. [Pl.4.]
Sung Pai, of the Sung Dynasty, records an offering made to the Emperor by Li Yuen-su, a high official of the Tang Dynasty, of a buffalo with a Swastika on the forehead in return for which offering he was given a horse by the Emperor. [Pl.5.]
The Ts’ing-I-Luh, by Tao Kuh of the Sung Dynasty, records that an Empress in