A Brief History of the Swastika Symbol & Its Use in Navajo Weaving
July 7, 2019 at 2PM
The Millicent Rogers Museum is pleased to present Professor Dennis Aigner and his book: The Swastika Motif: Its Use in Navajo and Oriental Weaving. Dennis will be discussing the early origins of the swastika and its cultural significance. Identifying the tribes and cultures in the Middle East and Asia where the swastika was used as a design motif. In the late 1800s, the swastika began to appear in Navajo weavings and Native American basketry, beadwork, pottery and jewelry.
Much maligned since its adoption by the Nazi Party in 1921 and its central place on the German national flag from 1933-45, the swastika enjoyed a beneficent, even cosmic, significance for thousands of years before that. Literally “well-being” in the ancient Sanskrit language, the swastika has occupied a place of reverence in several cultures and has been a positive symbol in many others, including pre-WWII America.
(Small Navajo Textile, Silver and Turquoise Pendant, Squash Blossom and Pin below are all from the MRM Collections)
To begin, the talk traces the early origins of the swastika and its cultural significance. We identify the tribes and cultures in the Middle East and Asia where the swastika was used as a design motif in their weavings and other utilitarian and decorative objects. Its widespread attraction in pre-WWII America likewise caused it to appear on tools, pottery, and many other household items and commercial products. In the late 1800s, the swastika began to appear in Navajo weavings and Native American basketry, beadwork, pottery and jewelry.
Our focus is on the use of the swastika motif in Navajo weaving at the end of the 19th C. and the beginning of the 20th C. It was promoted as a design motif by two prominent traders but found its way into the weavings of Navajo women from other regions of the reservation as well.
The talk will be illustrated by actual objects that help elucidate the topics. It is based on a new book by Professor Aigner entitled, The Swastika Motif: Its Use in Navajo and Oriental Weaving. A worthy successor to Professor Aigner’s previous book, The Swastika Symbol in Navajo Textiles, this book is likewise illustrated with numerous line drawings and photographs. It is also heavily referenced to previous research and writings on the subjects it addresses, as befitting a serious scholarly endeavor. References appear as notes at the end of each chapter, so as to facilitate the reader’s comprehension of the main text.
A few items from the Museum Store's Inventory
This large textile is available for purchase in the Museum Store. This image is just from the fold of the design. If you are interested in more information on this or the bracelet, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org OR CALL 575-758-4316.