Page images

that among the earliest ideas regarding the upright cross, and especially the upright cross in the square, there was any notion that it indicated generation, or the production of the sacred fire, or more than one attribute of even the sun. As regards the first of these, the reason of the delineation of the Cross or Swastika 2 on female figures is probably because of its inherent protective powers, the need of which is explained by Crawley in The Mystic Rose.'


I am not aware of any instance in which the Cross or Swāstika is used in fire-making excepting the cross-friction or sawing method previously described, which, as I have already stated, does not appear to have been the mode adopted for obtaining the sacred fire of the Euphrates valley and is not used for that of Hinduism. That the Cross had no special primitive connection with this idea is perhaps shown by its being employed in Accadian in expressing the words 'earth, rain, white.' In the Arani which is used for producing the holy fire (Agni) of India, a single piece of wood, the Adharārani, is laid on the ground, and the drill, the Uttararani or Pramantha is held vertically on it, and turned by a string the two ends of which are pulled alternately by another officiator. The point of the drill rests in a hole' a small shallow round cavity' in the lower piece.3 That such was the early form of the instrument is shown by the hymn 29 of Book iii of the Rig Veda, which says:

Here is the gear for friction, here tinder made ready for the spark. Bring thou the Matron [the lower stick]; we will rub Agni in ancient fashion forth.

In the two fire-sticks Jātavedas [Agni] lieth. . . .

Lay this with care on that which lies extended.

With regard to its being a symbol of the sun, it has not this signification in Accadian, or Assyrian, or Egyptian writing.

1 Schliemann. Troy, p. 35. Cunningham. The Stupa of Bharhut, Plates of statues in relief.

2 Wilson. The Swastika, p. 829.

3 Crookes, The Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, Vol. ii, p. 194.

Against it may also be cited the shapes of several early forms

of Swastika from Troy, such as

F. E, Z...

which are opposed to the identification of the Swastika as the wheel of the sun. In Chaldea and Assyria, in most instances the sun is symbolised as a six or eight-rayed star or wheel, which equally stands for stars and several other gods; and the upright cross often forms no portion of the diagram. If it actually represented the sun it could not be omitted from such designs in the cases where the Sun-God is indicated.

The Assyrian design with only four arms appears to be an incomplete picture of the compound type that had eight rays, four of which have been omitted. In the examples of the eight-rayed symbol which typify the sun, and consist of two crosses, a diagonal and an upright one, the diagonal cross certainly represents the vivifying and brilliant lightgiving rays, while the upright one may indicate another attribute of the Sun-God, that is, his protective quality. If it represented the God himself there could be no need to surround it by a circle, as is usually done when there are only four arms. When this portion of the design was alone pourtrayed the intention probably was to emphasise chiefly the guarding power of this deity, referring to which Lenormant remarked, according to the magical hymns, the diurnal sun, shining in the highest regions of the heavens and dissipating the darkness, was one of the most active protecting gods.' In numerous prayers in the magical texts supplications are addressed to him for his protection. As a matter of fact, the Accadian as well as the Egyptian emblem of the sun was not a cross but, as one would naturally expect, a circle, the sun's disk, which when depicted by means of wedges became a lozenge.


1 Maspero. The Dawn of Civilization, p. 657. King and Hall. Egypt and Western Asia, p. 256. The light rays are shown unmistakably in these illustrations.

2 Chaldean Magic, p. 178.

Both the cross in the square and the sun symbol occur in an inscription cut on the surface of a large rock at the side of an early dagaba at a monastery at Oṭṭappuwa, in the Northcentral Province of Ceylon. It is a record left by a king who is variously termed in the histories Kani-raja, Kaṇijānu, or Kaṇirajānu (30-33 A.D.). As the names of the two symbols are also appended in it, the inscription is of considerable interest, and I therefore give a fac-simile (Fig. No. 153), with a transliteration and translation of it.

(1) Sirikaņa raja (2) maha dama yaha (3) tubahi c(e)tiya (4) (n)ti bojana halā (5) pama maļuka ca (6) hoti. Two symbols. Nā sara ru (7) go ravi.

The two symbols are an upright cross in a square, and a circle with a central dot, having a small cross dependent from its circumference.

'King Sirikaṇa, having established the glory of the Great Law [the Buddhist faith], built a refectory near the dagaba, and enlarged the enclosure. (Two symbols). Figure of a Naga pool; rayed Sun.'

The cross below the sun evidently symbolises the protecting rays; it appears to represent one of the arrowy rays' of the Rig Veda, which discomfited the demons. The square alone may be the figure of the pool inhabited by Nāgas, the cross which is marked on it being in that case simply a protective emblem intended to keep out evil demons such as Rakshasas, who according to the Jātaka stories were accustomed to haunt pools of water. Plain rectangles with fish inside them or at their side represent pools in the earliest Indian coins. It is obvious that in this instance the cross can have no connection with fire.

There can be no doubt that both emblems are cut at the site on account of their powers as demon frighteners. I have already stated that slabs on which are carved the figures of Cobras (Nāgas) in high relief are set up as protectors at the base of dāgabas and at the outlets of the larger sluices in Ceylon. In the present case the belief of the carver, or perhaps the king himself, appears to have been that the existence of the Naga pool would ensure the presence of the


guardian Nāgas for the protection of the relics in the dāgaba.

This example of the representation of the sun shows how necessary it is to guard against reading astrological, and I may add also Phallic, meanings in early diagrams where their designers may have never intended them to be understood.

The upright cross inside an oblong is also represented in

[graphic][merged small]

275. Yantra -gala,, Anuradhapura.

FIGS. 274, 275. Early Crosses in Ceylon.

relief on the surface of a stone altar slab for flower offerings at a ruined monastery in thick uninhabited forest near Vammiyaḍi tank in South-eastern Ceylon (Fig. 274). The dividing walls of the hollows in the stone receptacles termed yantra gala in Ceylon, for containing treasures, especially the nine gems,' which were often deposited in the base of dagabas or at other monastic sites, are commonly cut in the form of a rectangular cross composed of four lines in each direction,

enclosed in a square or oblong (Fig. 275). In all these instances the guarding power of the cross against evil influences, especially when enclosed in the rectangle, is doubtless the reason of the adoption of these symbolic designs. We have the same idea represented in the protecting fence round the sacred tree or other sacred symbols in the early Indian and Ceylon coins; each side of it is usually in the form of the upright cross enclosed in the rectangle.

Possibly it is to be seen also in the common 'Buddhist railing' round early dagabas and monastic edifices in India and Ceylon, in which the horizontal bar is usually supplemented by two others. The three bars may be intended to typify the three Protections or 'Refuges' (the Buddha, the Law, and the Community of Monks) on the defensive power of which against all forms of evil every Buddhist depends. The whole forms a magical circle or boundary round the edifice.

I now suggest that it was from such a magical cross, defended by its enclosing square, that the Swastika was developed, as a magical protective diagram. This derivation is rendered the more probable by the fact that in the most carefully drawn Swastikas the second portion of each arm forms exactly half the side of the enclosing square. A later type

of the diagram still adhered to the lines of the same enclosing square, and has a third short line, forming a quarter of the next side of the square, at the end of the usual arm. These four forms are

+.0.5 or 2, and 5 or 2.

In symbolism it is unnecessary to depict a design in full; a portion of it may stand for the whole, like the single ray of the sun-emblem in the Sinhalese inscription at Oṭṭappuwa. Thus the bent arms of the Swastika would sufficiently show

1 Wilson. The Swastika, pp. 850, 851, 852, 856, 867, 876; Du Chaillu. The Viking Age, Vol. i, pp. 192 and 206.

« PreviousContinue »