Swastika for most of us has been a symbol of Nazi concepts. Germany during the 2nd World War completely usurped this sign and left it with its negative connotation up to present times. Why did we start to wonder whether this symbol has always been associated with nazism? Well, we went to a place called Marble Mountains located near Hoi An in Da Nang and surprisingly we found the sign of swastika on the marble statues of Buddha, and exactly in the center of his chest .. besides, the symbol was also illustrated separately and it was quite big, so it was not difficult to notice it .. at first it seemed abhorrent for us, then later awoke our curosity and we wanted to find out more about it … and dig into the history of the sign..
We got to Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son) on a motorbike, paid for the entrance ticket: 40,000 dong / 2USD and began to explore this amazing place.
The below picture illustrates so called Lady Budda whose statue stands in Da Nang on one of the hills close to the sea cost, as its a symbol of safe journey on a sea. She is also a goddess of fishermen.
The mouth of a cave looms from the base of the mountain and inside visitors can descend into caverns dedicated to the dead in the nine floors of Buddhist hell, locally known as Am Phu Cave. An altar rests below a stone stele for lost soldiers of past conflicts. Incense burns and locals stop to pray and leave offerings.
/A small digression: if you take a closer look at the photo below, you will notice the swastika on Buddha’s chest (we found this out much later while posting this entry:) /
Going up the stairs you will reach the top of Thuy Son Mountain. There is also a glass elevator at the base leading there. You will see a beautiful Chinese temple there.
Immediately after visiting the interesting Chinese temple we were to follow the trail up to the left when suddenly we noticed a marble statue of Buddha with the sign of swastika on his chest and the same sign which was quite huge present in front of him on the ground:
There was a moment of consternation, we looked at each other and remained speechless. What was swastika doing here? And why is it in a central location so that it wouldn’t remain unnoticed?
We went further. The stairs were leading higher and higher, you could encounter beautiful pagodas along the way, go onto numerous vantage points and continue further up to the so-called Road to Paradise. Descending from the summit along the way you will encounter the most beautiful cave in there, so called Huyen Khong Cave famous for its huge statue of Buddha carved high in the rock and the strips of sunlight falling on the finely carved facades of pagodas through a fee wholes in the cave’s ceiling. This is the most stunning of the caves and the finale of the trip from the depths of a cave for the damned to the summit of Marble Mountain long ago dedicated to paradise.
Buddha carved high in the cave has also swastika on its chest…
That was too much for us, we decided to discover what it’s all about. Swastika understood by us as a typical Nazi symbol just does not fit here. Buddha is bestowed the greatest respect and has a lot of positive energy …
So how should we interpret this symbol in Asia? Indeed the sign originally had a different meaning. The swastika among primitive cultures represented a symbol of the sun and its life-giving energy, prosperity, fertility, happiness, and was to provide protection from evil demons. It was also a symbol of immense spirituality, and therefore it was so easily assimilated by many Eastern cultures. In India many sculptures in the temples were decorated with swastika. The sign also reminded about the four possible places of rebirth of the soul (in hell, in an animal or a plant, people on Earth or in a spirit/ghost). It served also as a symbol of Buddha’s heart, which was to fit all his thoughts. In China the swastika symbolized originally divine power. Te sign was ‘’transferred’’ to Japan through Buddhism and is present on myriads of images of deities.
You may also be surprised by the fact that the emblem of the Federation of the Polish Associations of the Defenders of the Fatherland (1927) was white swastika on a black circle. The swastika has enjoyed a remarkable popularity during the First World War. Pilots from various countries were particularly fond of it and placed it on the chest as a ” sign of good luck ”, when they were forced to fly without a parachute! It’s unbelievable how once the most positive symbol of the world lost face being usurped by Germans.
This experience made us realize how little time schools spend on teaching new generations really useful and important historic information. Various meanings of swastika depict that we cannot perceive the world black and white and the knowledge that we possess so far on a particular concept is not necessairly proper or sufficient , there might be still more things o learn about. Travelling is really the best school. We hope that some of you were aware of the ambiguity of the swastika. For those who are as shocked as we were when looking at the ‘’signed’’ statue of Buddha, we hope that this entry seemed useful and interesting at the same time 🙂
And here below you will find some more inspiring photos 🙂