hitler stole the swastika symbol

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    THE HISTORY OF ANANCIENT HUMAN SYMBOL

    VISITORS TO NEWMEXICO in the late19th century would have been pleased topurchase a souvenir rug, pot or piece ofsilver jewelry decorated with a swastika.

    The tourists loved the motif, wrote Margery

    Bedinger in her popular 1973 book IndianSilver: Navajo and Pueblo Jewelers.

    Between July,1905 and 1906, 60,000swastikas in various forms, some by Indians

    and others not, sold to tourists in NewMexico as genuine

    Indian articles.Todays tourists,

    particularly thosefrom the Western

    hemisphere, would beappalled. Our

    association of the

    swastika withAdolf Hitler and his

    National SocialistParty is so

    encompassing wewould immediately

    assume any object soimprinted had a direct

    link with Nazism.

    Yet anyone who

    looks at art or

    architecture, no

    matter how casually,

    will eventually see the

    symbol. The Navajos,

    Tibetans and Turks

    incorporated the

    swastika into their

    rugs. Arizonas

    indigenous Pima and

    Maricopa people

    wove them into their

    baskets and painted

    them onto their pots.

    In Asia the emblem is

    found on everythingfrom clothing to

    political ballots to the

    thresholds of houses.

    Swastikas are carved into the Capitol

    Building in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia

    Museum of Art and many ancient Buddhist

    and Mayan temples. At Albuquerques KiMo

    Theater, built in 1927 and recently restored,

    swastikas adorn the proscenium, entryway

    and the buildings exterior. Elsewhere in New

    Mexico, they are evident in the architecture

    of the Shafer Hotel in Mountainair and the

    Swastika Hotel in Raton (now the

    International Bank).

    One of the oldest symbols made byhumans, the swastika dates back some

    6,000 years to rock and cave paintings.Scholars generally agree it originated in

    India. With the emergence of the Sanskrit

    language came the term swastika, a

    combination of su, or good, and asti,

    to be; in other

    words, well-being.

    Theres no clear

    answer on how the

    figure migrated toother parts of Asia,

    Europe, Africa andthe New World.

    Early examples ofswastikas on pottery

    and householdobjects in China

    indicate that theswastika traveled

    with traders and withthe spread of

    Buddhism

    throughout Asia.According to Jim

    Clarke, an ancientAsian art expert and

    owner ofClarke &Clarke Asian

    Antiques and Tribal

    Art in Santa Fe, earlyChristian inhabitantsof India and Iran

    used the swastika asan amulet or

    protective device.

    In the 17th century,India and Iran were

    exotic places toEuropeans, Clarke

    remarks. Thingsbrought back from

    these countries wereviewed as exotic. To incorporate these

    symbols was considered very avant.

    Clarke is intrigued by the notion that the

    swastika might have made its way from

    China to the New World with Chinese traders

    lost on the seas. Remains of Chinese vessels

    have been excavated in coastal communitiesin South America, he says, and along with

    LOW-FIRED POTTERY BOWL FROM THE

    BANSHAN CULTURE MAJIAWANVILLAGE, CHINA

    NEOLITHIC PERIOD (21651965 BCE)

    LARCE CENTRAL SWASTIKA PROBABLY INTENDED TO

    SYMBOLIZE A SUN WHEEL. COURTESY CLARKE & CLARKE

    DETAIL FROM LARGE GERMANTOWN PICTORIAL NAVAJO RUG

    C1890 COURTESY SHERWOODS SPIRIT OFAMERICA

    http://www.cabq.gov/kimohttp://www.cabq.gov/kimohttp://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.ethnoarts.com/http://www.cabq.gov/kimohttp://www.cabq.gov/kimo
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    THE HISTORY OF ANANCIENT HUMAN SYMBOL

    Pueblo people. The two most popular motifs,according to author and antique Indian

    jewelry dealer Cindra Kline, were Indianheads and swastikas.

    Kline, who has written a book on Navajo

    spoons to be published by the Museum ofNew Mexico Press in

    September, 2001,

    notes that the first

    spoon shes located

    with both a swastika

    and an engraved date

    coincides with the

    opening of the

    St. Louis Exposition in1904, though the

    item was certainly

    made years earlier.

    The Charles M.

    Robbins Co., a

    commercial spoon

    company, was

    manufacturing so-

    called Navajo spoons

    as mementos of the fair. In 1906, Moore

    was the first to offer swastika spoons in its

    catalog. By the time the spoon craze died

    out around 1915, Kline says, you had so

    many stamps and dyes with swastikas that

    the symbol appears on bracelets, sides of

    rings, ash trays, salt cellars. Any silver-

    stamped item was fair game for a swastika

    stamp.

    In the year 2001 in Santa Fe, swastikascan be found in myriad museums and

    galleries. At the Museum of Indian Arts and

    Culture, a ceramic rain god made at Tesuque

    Pueblo circa 1900, proudly displays one.

    At Clarke & Clarke, swastikas adorn 19th

    century Thai garments and pre-historic

    Chinese bowls. Navajo spoons can be pur-

    chased at Kania Ferrin, Medicine Man and

    Rainbow Man galleries and Navajo rugs atCristofs, Dewey, Packards and Sherwoods.

    And there are many other venues displaying

    Himalayan, Islamic, Asian and Native

    American art in which swastikas connote the

    natural world, good fortune or simply serve

    as attractive decorative elements.

    Often, however, these pieces will not be

    on public view. Its a horrible symbol to

    overcome, Kline remarks. But the swastika

    can be such a beautiful design. Its a shame

    to see all these beautiful pieces hidden

    away. Given the difficulty of dating silver,

    Kline says, If the viewer can look beyond

    Hitlerization, if you have a swastika spoon its

    an assurance of age. You know it pre-dates

    WW II probably by a good number of years

    and it has a fascinating history.How Hitler came

    to adopt the swastika

    is unclear. VariousGerman citizens are

    said to havesuggested it as a

    symbol of racialpurity. Hitler was

    supposedly obsessedwith numerology and

    Eastern religion and

    may have seen theimage in Tibetan

    manuscripts orpaintings.

    Regardless, theswastikas original

    meaning, which had

    endured formillennia, was diametrically altered.

    In 1940, in response to Hitlers regime,

    the Navajo, Papago, Apache and Hopipeople signed a whirling log proclamation. It

    read, Because the above ornament, which

    has been a symbol of friendship among ourforefathers for many centuries, has been

    desecrated recently by another nation ofpeoples, therefore it is resolved that

    henceforth from this date on and forevermore our tribes renounce the use of the

    emblem commonly known today as theswastika . . . on our blankets, baskets,

    art objects, sand paintings and clothing.

    References and suggested reading

    The Swastika Symbol in Navajo Textiles

    by Dennis J. Aigner. DAI Press, Laguna

    Beach, California, 2000.

    Navajo Spoons by Cindra Kline. Museumof New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico,2001.

    Indian Silver: Navajo and Pueblo

    Jewelers by Margery Bedinger. UNM Press,1973.

    DOTTIE INDYKE LIVES IN SANTA FE AND WRITES REGULARLY

    ABOUT THE ART AND CULTURE OF THIS REGION.2001 WINGSPREAD GUIDES OF NEW MEXICO, INC.

    READ MORE ON THE WEB AT www.collectorsguide.com

    SWASTIKA SHIELD KIMO THEATRE (1927) RESTORED 2000

    423 CENTRALA VENUE NW IN DOWNTOWNALBUQUERQUE

    PHOTO BY KIRK GITTINGS

    http://www.collectorsguide.com/miachttp://www.collectorsguide.com/miachttp://www.collectorsguide.com/miachttp://www.collectorsguide.com/miac