The swastika--or svastika from the ancient Sanskrit language--is one of our most universal and positive symbols. Literally it means "auspicious mark", but in various cultures it has signified well-being, highest perfection, happiness, pleasure and good luck. Its geographic dispersion was wide in early times, from its beginnings in Anatolia and Mesopotamia around 5500 BCE to the Indus River Valley, Asia Minor and even to ancient Troy during the Neolithic Period. The swastika is a primary symbol of Buddhism and Hinduism to this day. It also appears in early Christianity, Judaism and Islam, though often in stylized form.
The swastika appears independently on objects from several early American Indian cultures, the oldest example being artifacts excavated at Hopewell Mound in Ohio (200 BCE - 500 CE). The symbol appears on old ceremonial sashes of the Kansa and Sac Indians, where it meant good luck or stood for the wind and its four directions. In the Hopi culture, the swastika is an allegorical depiction of the migration routes Hopi clans took through South and North America in order to arrive at their present location. It seems also to have been used by sun worshippers among several tribes from the Great Plains, just to name a few.
The swastika appears on the beadwork, basketry, pottery and jewelry of many tribes, from the Iroquois in the northeast, to the Sioux and Comanche of the upper Midwest and Great Plains, to the Apache, Navajo and Pima of the southwest, and to the Tlingit and Makah tribes of the Pacific northwest, among others.
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