"..a bardy view!"

Roman Swastika

Continuing where the last post (bar one) ended, I am returning to the swastika uncovered in the Roman villa of Brading on the Isle of Wight. As I was saying, it is nearly 2,000 years old, and situated amongst many other symbols of Roman life, be they hunting, recreation, worshipping and farming. Swastika

 Rarely in history can one symbol hold such evocative and emotional responses. It is of course synonymous now with the National Socialists of Germany during the 1930's and 40's. It is especially identified as a sign of anti-semitism for obvious reasons.

But it wasn't always like that.

Along with many other westerners of my generation and since, I have never given much more thought to the swastika, and always assumed that it was a piece of iconic-spin dreamt up by the Nazis.

After all, the renown fashion designer Hugo Boss (the label of choice for many) was the original designer for the Nazi uniforms – so it was a fair assumption that much other accoutrements which we associate with Nazi imagery were equally new creations.

It was with surprise then, that I saw the mosaic swastika on the floor of a Roman villa in Britain, owned by a wealthy noble in 55AD.

Before the "Hitler hijack", the symbol had represented energy, life and good fortune. Indeed for 3,000 years different cultures had employed it with positive effect. 187

The swastika was very prominent in all sorts of places, buildings, clothing, art, religious symbolism etc., and in all corners of the globe. 

(Another part of the mosaic Roman floor at Brading is pictured right – taken by yours truly. Click on it for a closer look!)

Hitler had designs on the swastika  as far back as 1920. It's now regarded for all the wrong reasons.

One has to sympathise with religious groups like Hindus and Bhuddists who use it as a part of their faith, but are now extra cautious whenever they display it.

The chances are that you'll come across it in ancient buildings and paintings. Don't recoil in horror when that happens. Just curse Hitler for ruining something which once brought so much joy to so many people throughout human history.


February 28, 2009 - Posted by | Current Affairs, General

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