The Swastika: The Earliest Known Symbol & its Migrations
Dispersion of the Swastika
Professor Goodyear, and possibly others, ascribe the origin of the Swastika to the Greek fret; but this is doubtful and surely has not been proved. It is difficult, if not impossible, to procure direct evidence on the proposition. Comparisons may be made between the two signs; but this is secondary or indirect evidence, and depends largely on argument. No man is so poor in expedients that he may not argue. Goldsmith's schoolmaster "e'en tho' vanquished, he could argue still." The Greek fret, once established, might easily be doubled or crossed in some of its members, thus forming a figure similar to the Swastika (fig. 139), which would serve as an ornament, but is without any of the characteristics of the Swastika as s symbol. The crossed lines in the Greek fret seem to have been altogether fortuitous. They gave it no symbolic character. It was simply a variation of the fret, and at best was rarely used, and like it, was employed only for ornament and not with any signification --- not a sign of benediction, blessing, or good luck, as was the Swastika. The foundation principle of the Greek fret, so far as we can see its use, is its adaptability to form an extended ornamental band, consisting of doubled, bent, and sometimes crossed or interlaced lines, always
continuous and never ending,
and running between two parallel border lines. Two interlacing lines can
be used, crossing each other at certain places, both making continuous
meanders and together forming the ornamental band (fig.
139). In the Greek fret the two lines meandered between the two borders
back and forth, up and down, but always forming a continuous line. This
seems to be the foundation principle of the Greek fret. In all this requirement
or foundation principle the Swastika
fails. A row or band of Swastikas can not be made by continuous lines;
each one is and must be separated from its fellows. The Swastika has four
arms, each made by a single line which comes to an end in each quarter.
This is more imperative with the meander Swastika than with the normal.
If the lines be doubled on each other to be carried along to form another
Swastika adjoining, in the attempt to make a band, it will be found impossible.
The four lines from each of the four arms can be projected, but each will
be in a different direction, and no band can be made. It is somewhat difficult
to describe this, and possibly not of great need. An Attempt to carry
out the project of making a band of Swastikas, to be connected with each
other, or to make them travel in any given direction with continuous lines,
will be found impossible. Professor Goodyear attempts to show how this
is done by his figure on page 96, in connection with pl. 10, fig. 9, also
figs. 173 and 174 (pp. 353 and 354). These figures are given in this paper
and are, respectively, Nos. 21, 25, 26,
and 27. Exception is taken to
the pretended line of evolution in these figures: (1) There is nothing to show any actual relationship between them. There is
no evidence that they agreed either in locality or time, or that there
was any unity of thought or design in
figs. 146, 147, 148 ,149, 150
Goodyear, "Grammar of the Lotus," pl. 61, fig. 1. [Back]