Imatges de pàgina
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NTIL a comparatively few years ago, the literature of science was almost wholly silent on the subject of the Svastika. Professor Wilson, of the Smithsonian Institute, writing in the early nineties, sets forth that in most of the best-known encyclopedias, both European and American, the word Svastika is not so much as mentioned. It was indeed, he says, this to him incomprehensible omission, and consequent admittedly general ignorance, that prompted him to make an exhaustive study of the subject, and to embody the results of his researches in what is undoubtedly the standard work on Svastika at the present time. Yet even Professor Wilson, while giving to his readers the great mass of evidence he has collated, is chary of expressing any definite opinion as to the origin and significance of this universal symbol. In this reserve he is doubtless prudent, at least in so far that he has avoided entering upon a controversy which must probably be endless. The theories, indeed, that have been presented concerning the origin and the symbolism of the Svastika are as numerous as they are diverse. Every kind of suggestion has been made as to its relation to the most ancient Deities, and as to its typifying of certain qualities. Various writers have regarded it as being the emblem, respectively, of Zeus and of Baal, of the Sun God, of the Sun itself as a God, and of the Sun chariot. Of Agni (the Ignis of the R0mans) the fire God, and of Indra the rain God. In the estimation of others, again, it is typical of the sky and of the sky God ; and finally of the Deity of all Deities, the great God, the maker and ruler of the universe. Again, it has been held to symbolize light and the God of light, and the forked lightning, as a manifestation of that Deity; and yet again, according to some, from its

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tainly it stood for the Jupiter Tonans and Pluvius of the Latins, and for the Thor of the Scandinavians, though that it represented a variety of the ‘Thor hammer ’ is now considered to be disproved. Many have attributed a Phallic meaning to it, or, regarding it as the symbol of the female, have claimed that it represents the genera— tive principles of mankind, while its appearance on the person of certain Goddesses, Artemis, Hera, Demeter, Astarte, and the Chaldean ‘ Nana,’ the leaden Goddess from Hissarlik, has caused it to be claimed as a sign of fecundity. But, as Professor Wilson points out, and as every other writer has allowed, whatever else the Svastika may have stood for, and however many meanings it may have had, it was always, if not primarily, ornamental. It may have been used with any or all and other than the above significations, but it was always ornamental as well. fl But in whatever other connexion it may have been employed, it was invariably, and still is to-day, an auspicious sign. It is still used by the common people of India, of China, and of Japan, as a sign of ‘long life, good wishes, and good fortune.’ Among many North American Indian tribes it is called ‘ the luck,’ and the men wear it embroidered on their garters, and the women on the borders of their skirts; and in ancient times it was wont to be embroidered in quills on the bags in which they carried their medicinal herbs. In Thibet it is a not uncommon mode of tattooing; and in this connexion it is interesting to note that Higgins in his ‘Anacalypsis’ says, concerning the origin of the cross, that the oflicial name for the Governor of Thibet comes from the ancient Thibetan name for cross, the original spelling of which is “Lamh.” Davenport corroborates this view in his “Aphrodisiaco.” There is, according to Balfour, despite Mr. Gandhi’s contradictions of Colonel Cunningham, a sect in Thibet who receive their name from this symbol. They are the ‘Tao-sse’ of the Chinese. The founder of this doctrine is said to have flourished B.C. 604. to 523. They were rationalists who held that peace of mind and contentment were the only objects worthy of attainment in this life. They assumed the name of Tirthakar, or pure-doers. Professor Max Miiller, discussing the question why the sign should have had an auspicious meanIj; ing, mentions that Mr. Thomas, the distinguished oriental numismatist, has called attention to the fact, that in the long list of the recognized devices of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara ' the sun is absent, but that while the eighth Tirthankara has the sign of the half moon, the seventh is marked with a Svastika, i.e. the sun. Here, then, is clear indication that the Svastika with the ends pointing in the right direction was originally a symbol of the sun, perhaps of the vernal sun as opposed to the autumnal sun, the ‘Suavastika,’ and therefore a natural symbol of light, life, health, and wealth. This ‘Suavastika,’ Max Miiller believes, was applied to the Svastika sign with the ends bent to the left, but IItl with the exception of Burnouf (‘ Des ‘ ' Tirthmkara.‘ from Tirt' ha (Sanskrit—any Hindu shrine or holy place to which Hindus make pi] 'mages). ' Tlrthankara'


The Burlington Magazine, Number IV

is the generic title of the twenty-four eceased saints held sacred by the Jains. They are deified mortals.

Sciences et Religions ’) no one agrees with him. Burnouf supports his theory (which is, that the word Suavastika is a derivation of the Svastika, and ought to signify ‘ he, who, or that which bears or carries the Svastika or a species of Svastika’) by the story of Agni (Ignis), the god of Sacred Fire, as told in the ‘ Veda ’ (the four sacred books of the Hindus). ‘The young Queen, the Mother of Fire, carried the Royal infant mysteriously concealed in her bosom. She was a woman of the people, whose common name was Arani—that is, the instrument of wood (the Svastika) from which fire was produced by rubbing.’ Burnouf says that the origin of the sign is now easy to recognize. It represents the two pieces of wood which compose the Arani, of which the extremities were to be retained by the four nails. At the junction of the two pieces was a fossette or cup-like hole, and there was placed a wooden upright in the form of a lance (the pramantha), the violent rotation of which (by whipping after the fashion of the whipping-top) brought forth fire.

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Zmigrodski agrees with this view; but, as with every other theory connected with Svastika, it has many opponents. {I Professor Dumontier holds that Svastika is nothing else than a development of the ancient Chinese characters C . h . e, which carries the idea, according to Count Goblet D’Alviella (in ‘ La Migration des Symboles ’), of perfection or excellence, and signifies the renewal and perpetuity of life. Max Miiller, Waring, and D’Alviella are agreed that neither in Babylonia nor in Assyria are any traces of Svastika to be found. Ludwig M tiller, however, finds ample evidence of it on Persian coins of the Arsacides and Sassanides dynasties. 1] Arsacides was the

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