The History of the Swastika

swastika meanings

There are few symbols in history that bring out as much emotion as the swastika. Forever tied to one of the darkest times in human history the swastika for many stands as a symbol of hate. However, this symbol’s past goes back farther than the Nazi party it has more recently been attached to; since 10,000 BC, the swastika has been used in Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, ancient Iranian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and countless other cultures and religions throughout recorded history. In part two of the three-part series on the history of symbols we explore the origins and uses of the swastika throughout the world.

A Forgotten Meaning

Even after sixty-two years since the end of World War II the swastika is seen as a symbol of hate and racism. From the young to the old this symbol has been defined and will most likely remain defined in this manner for a long time to come. The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika meaning any lucky or auspicious object.  Composed of su- meaning “good or well” and asti, a verbal abstract to the root such as “to be” the suffix –ka intensifies the verbal meaning of beneficial which can be translated to “that which is associated with well-being” what one would consider a lucky charm.

swastika meanings

Origins of Light

Long before times of modern history, the swastika has been and still is a part of many religions and cultures throughout the world. In Hinduism the two symbols that create the swastika represent the forms of the creator god Brahma. It is considered extremely holy and auspicious by all Hindus and can be found in many places and items associated with Hindu culture including clothing, buildings and letterheads.

In Buddhism the symbol has been used in art and scripture since the 5th century BC. Known in Japanese as a manji, it represents Dharma, universal harmony and the balance of opposites.  Jainism considers the swastika one of the twenty-four auspicious marks and the emblem of the seventh arhat of the present age. It is a symbol of the seventh Jina (Saint) and all Jain temples and holy books must contain the swastika and ceremonies typically begin and end with creating a swastika mark several times with rice around the altar.

The symbol is also used by many other religions throughout the world, in some cases the symbol has been replaced or abandoned altogether. Many religions that are no longer practiced used the swastika as a symbol of balance or harmony and believed it brought good luck. Still today the symbol remains part of many religions despite the more mainstream views of its meaning.

swastika meanings

Redefined in Darkness

As a symbol of Nazism the swastika or hooked cross was used on the Nazi Party’s flags, badges and armbands from as far back as 1920.  Combined with the colors found on the flag of the old German Empire, Hitler believed the swastika represented the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man. The use of the swastika was associated by Nazi theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people.

The Nazis claimed that the early Aryans of India were the prototypical invaders. Following the Nordicist versions of Aryan invasion theory it was widely believed that the Indian caste system which believed in the ranking of members in a society by occupational status and degree of purity or pollution as determined by their birth, they believed was the basis concept for racial purity and cause to avoid racial mixing.

With the Nazis belief in racial superiority and their anti-Semitic views the use of the swastika became a symbol of the goal to create a world where their view of a master race would be dominant.  Because of its use during world war two and being associated with the holocaust, the swastika is prohibited from being show in Germany considered illegal and punishable except for scholarly reasons.

swastika meanings

Adaption’s and Influences

While banned in Germany except for education purposes the swastika or images of the like are still used today in various forms of media influenced by the events surrounded the symbols use by the Nazi Party during World War II. One such adaptation of the symbol can be found during the 1983 mini-series V. The story surrounded an alien race disguised as humans who planned to steal all of earth’s water and harvest human beings as food. The red and black uniforms and the swastika-like emblem was a Nazi allegory.

The symbol has also been used in animation in its traditional and redesigned shapes usually as a mark of shame or servitude or as a seal locking away a good or evil presence within a human being. Most of the western uses of the swastika are to reinforce its redefinition as a symbol of hate. Beyond that there are many hate groups active today who use the symbol in the Nazi interpretation of racial supremacy.

swastika meanings

A Global Symbol

Darkness or light, oppression or well-being, saints or sinners the swastika is a symbol known throughout the world in many different ways. Revered in many cultures by millions, despised by millions in others, it is one of the most widely know symbols on earth. Another symbol shares a sometimes reverse reception in the modern world. While it is wildly accepted that most in the western world look upon the swastika in a negative light, the cross is looked upon mostly in the positive.  This however can also be debated with some segments of the global population.

Commercial Wars: War of the Sword and Shield

zelda sword and shield
zelda sword and shield

In the age of World of Warcraft the sword and shield still dominates when it comes to roleplaying. Even when you look at a game like Final Fantasy that takes advantage of both modern technology and magic, the sword and shield are still present in one form or another. From my old pen and paper D&D days to playing games like Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege there is something about those type of games that keeps the fans playing.

As anyone knows there are tons of video games that feature not only the sword and shield, but magic, the bow and arrow and a medieval theme that makes us want to load up Lord of the Rings for a 15-hour marathon session. Let’s take a look at some commercials that try to capture that theme to draw you into the game world and hopefully make a sale.

Crystalis: Nintendo

This is classic adventure production at its finest.  You can breakdown the commercial and see how it was done using the technology they had at the time. First you have the hero which you want to look right as far as the costume and weapons. Second you have a basic forest-like landscape, but you blur the backgrounds to give it some mystery and pipe in some shots of what the hero is after. Then you add the destination in the far distance and a shot of the hero approaching the enemy.

Sure, the monster looks cheesy now, but at the time that was pretty good. The special effects were very nice for the time and overall made for a good commercial.

Zelda: Gameboy Color

This is animated but it is done very well for a short spot starting with the pan around and then into the Gameboy screen with the snow falling into the background leading to a shot of Link rushing in on his horse. Believe me, thirty second spots are hard because you have a little less than that to capture the audience and let them know what you are offering.

In this case you kind of expect people to know of Zelda, but still the challenge is there. You get a scene of what the game deals with. Link is searching for something and there will be challenges along the way. This may be simple compared to what we see today, but it was well put together and executed into a fun to watch commercial.

Golden Axe 2: Japanese

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Short and sweet, what is cooler than a Japanese guy dressed in armor wielding a giant sword? Well, alright, ninja’s and pirates, but still this was pretty cool. Honestly, the costume looks good, the sword looked real and we saw just enough before the in-game video to appreciate it without going overboard.

We get to see some cool shots from the actual game and then boom we have our warrior cleaving us in two with that sword again before the Sega logo.

Dragonfire: Atari 2600


Okay, so he does not have a sword or a shield, but when you have a talking dragon (especially with a voice like his) you have to profile it. Now while I do not understand why a medieval dragon is in some futuristic looking room caressing a game cartridge, I do think it is funny that the prince sneaks in like a thief to snatch it.

Not only does the costume of the dragon look plastic, but even the prince looks like he is wearing the princesses sleep suit. You do have to give them credit for zooming in on the stickman graphic of the game though.

Time for Ale

Alight, so we got a look at a few video game commercials featuring the sword and shield. Now you vote which did it best.

[poll id=”14″]

Commercial Wars: Best use of Mario Bros – Japanese edition

super mario bros mushroom girls cosplay
super mario bros mushroom girls cosplay

If you don’t know who the Mario Bros are stop reading right now. The fact is like Pac-Man Mario is a video game icon and with over 25 years of Mario Bros featuring many classic unforgettable hits it is no wonder the plumbers are still going strong today. Even when Mario is not fighting against Bowser or trying to rescue the princess many of his games have been entertaining from Tennis to Go-Kart racing. Obviously he has been in a ton of commercials and this week we look at the ones who used him best.

As you know the Nintendo Entertainment System originated in Japan and anyone who has watched any extended amount of Japanese commercials knows they can go from funny to crazy to downright disturbing. Let’s take a look at some of these commercials and vote on who gets the top spot.

Super Mario Bros 2 USA

If you thought Birdo was weird before this commercial from Japan will not make things better. Honestly, they makes things worse. Funny thing is there is an ongoing debate as to whether Birdo is a guy who dresses like a girl or a girl. My question is do you really want to know the answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the translation for what Birdo said, but man watching him, her, it push that egg out of its snout was just disturbing.

Super Mario Bros: DS

So I won’t lie I just put this commercial here because the Japanese lady is cute and what she says and her facial expression are pretty cool. This was part of a series of Japanese commercials that showcased people acting naturally while playing the game instead of acting out a script. I think it was a winner.

Super Mario World: Super Famicom

I really think Mario could win America Idol I mean just look at his moves and singing style. Do you really need to know what he is saying? I have to say I like the presentation with the animated Mario and particularly the animated Bowser at the end. You have to give it to the Japanese; they know how to roll out a product.

Paper Mario

I swear this commercial makes Mario look like a mix between Barbie and Batman. Mario is just chillin on his own private beach, golfing, playing tennis and then boom, he has to go be all bad ass. Mario was smart and made sure to get all the royalties and now he is the Bruce Wayne of Japan.

Mario Kart: DS

It’s Mario Kart United Nations style. I love how the Japanese portray the American version, lol. I can’t blame them we do it to them.  I wonder why they are called the Hot Mario Bros, sounds like a porno.

 

The Legend of Zelda (Japanese)

Legend of Zelda logo for Game Boy Color
Legend of Zelda logo for Game Boy Color

To say the Japanese do commercials a little different than the U.S. is an understatement. All the proof is right here in this commercial for the Ledged of Zelda. While it is in Japanese it’s pretty clear to make out that Link saves the princess then Gannon appears.

Legend of Zelda logo
Legend of Zelda logo

You gotta love the music and the choreographed dancing, with the props and special effects it does get you into the game, well it did for me. I mean the song is catchy even if I don’t know exactly what they are saying.