#1
Old 07-30-2013, 05:08 PM
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Clockwise swastika?

I was just reading Cecil's old column on swastikas: https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...merican-symbol

The reader said,
Quote:
The Wheel of Life turns in a clockwise ("deosil") direction. Hitler, who was fascinated by the occult, deliberately reversed the ancient symbol of power so that it turned counterclockwise, or "widdershins."
Cecil replied,
Quote:
Time to lay off the airplane glue, West. As a glance at a history book would show, the Nazi symbol was oriented in a clockwise direction.
How does one describe the rotational direction of a swastika? I visualize it (as does West, I imagine) as a propeller with each blade trailing a banner behind it. But Cecil seems to view the bent arms pointing in the direction of rotation rather than being dragged behind. Since the swastika is a stationary symbol that is not usually spun like the Wheel of Fortune, is there any objective basis for describing either direction as "clockwise?"

Forgive me if this was addressed long ago, but I just searched the archives and didn't find any similar discussions.
#2
Old 07-30-2013, 11:07 PM
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I always viewed it as pointing in the direction of rotation. Wikipedia says "A right-facing swastika might be described as 'clockwise' or 'counter-clockwise'." With a diagram outlining both things you mentioned. Apparently the preferred terms are "left-facing" and "right-facing" because they're less ambiguous, and it says that usually "clockwise" refers to "right-facing". It goes on to mention that apparently some ancient vedic scripts mentioned the significance of the clockwise and counterclockwise motion (but doesn't say what that significance was).

It should be noted that all this is marked with [citation needed], so grain of salt.

I don't know if there's any unambiguous answer to which way it's "rotating".
#3
Old 07-31-2013, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cartoonacy View Post
Since the swastika is a stationary symbol that is not usually spun like the Wheel of Fortune...
Now I'm picturing the most messed up game show ever.
#4
Old 07-31-2013, 12:56 AM
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Try This. http://history1900s.about.com/cs/swa...ikahistory.htm

Quote:
Does the Direction of the Swastika Matter?

In ancient times, the direction of the swastika was interchangeable as can be seen on an ancient Chinese silk drawing.
Some cultures in the past had differentiated between the clockwise swastika and the counter-clockwise sauvastika. In these cultures the swastika symbolized health and life while the sauvastika took on a mystical meaning of bad-luck or misfortune.

But since the Nazis use of the swastika, some people are trying to differentiate the two meanings of the swastika by varying its direction - trying to make the clockwise, Nazi version of the swastika mean hate and death while the counter-clockwise version would hold the ancient meaning of the symbol, life and good-luck.
#5
Old 07-31-2013, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stui magpie View Post
That pretty much covers what Cecil said, but it doesn't answer my question: Is there an objective basis for calling the swastika "clockwise" and the sauvastika "counter-clockwise?"

It looks the other way around to me. That may be because, as a cartoon buff, I'm used to seeing moving objects leaving motion trails behind them.
#6
Old 07-31-2013, 11:44 AM
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I don't think there's an objective answer.

Personally, I've always imagined it like four scoops on an axle so I'd think of a rightfacing swastika as going clockwise and a left-facing going counterclockwise.
#7
Old 07-31-2013, 02:19 PM
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Yes, but you can also imagine it as a pinwheel rocket.
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#8
Old 07-31-2013, 02:29 PM
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Wow, I've never thought about the damn thing rotating at all. Never imagined there was a clockwise or counterclockwise question.
#9
Old 07-31-2013, 02:34 PM
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Personally, if I had to distinguish them via words, I'd call them an S swastika (like the Nazis used) and a Z swastika (the other way).
#10
Old 07-31-2013, 02:35 PM
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Swastika and Zwastika!
#11
Old 08-01-2013, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Personally, if I had to distinguish them via words, I'd call them an S swastika (like the Nazis used) and a Z swastika (the other way).
Much less ambiguous, clear easy visual referents.
#12
Old 08-01-2013, 01:52 PM
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"S vs. Z" sounds like a great way to distinguish them. Alternatively, you could say "with arms pointed clockwise" and be unambiguous.

"Turning clockwise" is completely unclear.
#13
Old 08-01-2013, 08:03 PM
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BTW another thing I've noticed is that swastika/sauvastika symbols in the older traditions are more often oriented with the arms straight along the vertical/horizontal axes, while the NSDAP's symbols preponderantly had it aligned at 45 degree diagonals.
#14
Old 08-02-2013, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Personally, if I had to distinguish them via words, I'd call them an S swastika (like the Nazis used) and a Z swastika (the other way).
Excellent! I am ashamed that I never thought of that myself. I could never remember which way the arms pointed. The SS officer insignia, which was inspired by the swastika, should have clued me in on how to remember which way the Nazi symbol was oriented. They weren't ZZ officers, after all.

Many internets to you Chronos!
#15
Old 08-02-2013, 11:39 PM
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In Tibet, the direction is quite important. Tibetan Buddhists subscribe to the "s" shape. The indigenous pre-Buddhist Bonpo religion is the opposite direction. It's not a"s" good, opposite bad type dynamic as posited above.

stui magpie, do you have more than a random cite saying the direction in ancient China doesn't matter? I'm not trying to bust balls but that strikes me and all my experience in China and Tibet as patently absurd. YMMV.
#16
Old 08-08-2013, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
In Tibet, the direction is quite important. Tibetan Buddhists subscribe to the "s" shape. The indigenous pre-Buddhist Bonpo religion is the opposite direction. It's not a"s" good, opposite bad type dynamic as posited above.

stui magpie, do you have more than a random cite saying the direction in ancient China doesn't matter? I'm not trying to bust balls but that strikes me and all my experience in China and Tibet as patently absurd. YMMV.
I have a photo I took of the symbol carved into a flagstone of the Potala Palace main front staircase. It's "S", just like Adolph's (but with the dot in the center of each square). Don't recall seeing it in China.

Last edited by md2000; 08-08-2013 at 12:01 AM.
#17
Old 08-10-2013, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitsurati View Post
The SS officer insignia, which was inspired by the swastika, should have clued me in on how to remember which way the Nazi symbol was oriented. They weren't ZZ officers, after all.
They called themselves the Master Race, not the Top Race.
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