The Swastika: The Earliest Known Symbol & its Migrations
Dispersion of the Swastika
know not whether it is intended
as a religious symbol, a charm of blessing, or good luck, or whether it
is only an ornament. We do not know whether it has any hidden, mysterious,
or symbolic meaning; but there it is, a prehistoric or Oriental Swastika
in all its purity and simplicity, appearing in one of the mystic ceremonies
of the aborigines in the great American desert in the interior of the
North American Continent.
ThePimas. --- The U. S. National Museum possesses a shield (Cat. No. 27829) of bull hide, made by the Pima Indians. It is about 20 inches in diameter, and bears upon its face an ogee Swastika (tetraskelion), the ends bent to the right. The body and each arm is divided longitudinally into three stripes or bands indicated by colors, blue, red, and white, arranged alternately. The exterior part of the shield has a white ground, while the interior or center has a blue ground. This shield (fig. 257) is almost an exact reproduction of the Swastika from Mycenæ (fig. 161), from Ireland (fig. 216), and from Scandinavia (figs. 209 and 210). Fig. 258 shows another Pima shield of the same type. Its Swastika is, however, painted with a single or possibly a mixture of two, red and white. It is ogee, and the ends bend to the left. This shield is the property of Mr. F. W. Hodge, of the Buereau of Ethnology. He obtained it from a Pima Indian in Arizona, who assured him that the hole at the end of the lower arm of the Swastika was made by an arrow shot at him by an Indian enemy.
In Scribner's Magazine for September, 1894, under the title of "Tapestry in the New World," one of our popular writers has described, with many illustrations, the bedquilt patterns of our grandmothers' time. One of these she interprets as the Swastika. This is, however, believed to be forced. The pattern in question is made of patches in the form of rhomboids and right-angled triangles sewed and grouped somewhat in the form of the Swastika (fig. 259). It is an invented combination of patchwork which formed a new pattern, and while it bears a slight resemblance to the Swastika, lacks its essential elements. It was not a symbol, and represents no idea beyond that of a pretty pattern. It stood for nothing sacred, nor for benediction, blessing, nor good luck. It was but an ornamental pattern which fortuitously had the resemblance of Swastika. It was not even in the form of a cross. The difference between it and the Swastika is about the same there would be between the idle and thoughtless boy who sporadically draws the