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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 Nāga 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

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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

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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.

that the Cross was guarded by its enclosing square, and it would be optional to turn the second part of the arm in either direction, to the right or left. All magic being enveloped in mystery by its professors, the omission of an unessential part of the primitive diagram may have been thought to increase the mystical effect.

Another form, which some might think more protective, consisted of the Cross with the second part of the arms turned in both directions, to the right and left, leaving, in its simplest shape, only the angles of the square unrepresented, perhaps because internal corners in houses are liable to become lurking-places for evil spirits. It has been called by Mr. J. M. Campbell the Guarded Cross.'1 This design occurs on early terra-cotta whorls of Troy, and on pottery from Mycenae. In the British Museum there are three specimens from Honduras, cut in flint; and it appears in the Palenque reliefs of Central America. It is also included in the Kurna designs. That it is only a variant of the Swāstika is shown by the last form from Troy previously illustrated (see p. 656).


A third type, which may be termed the Barred Cross, or Barred Swastika, was subsequently developed. In it, one or two lines are placed across the arms of the Cross or Swastika, at their ends or at a short distance from them. Specimens of this variety of Swastika occur on early Indian and Ceylon coins, and the Cross is found on pottery of the first city at Troy, and on a fragment of pottery from the later Lake Settlement at Paladru in France, and of course very commonly in later Christian art.

In addition to the Swastikas already illustrated, some of the simpler types of these early designs are as follows:

1 The Indian Antiquary, Vol. xxiii, p. 161, 'Notes on the Spirit Basis of Belief and Custom.'

2 Schliemann. Troy, Plate 24, Fig. 355. Compare also Coin No. 35,


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Dr. Schliemann also found a Swastika at Troy with a square at the end of each arm. All these guards or bars on the arms are equally intended for the protection of the Cross from the intrusion of evil influences, and symbolise the enclosing square; they give increased protective powers to the cross or prevent its powers from being neutralised.

I exclude the curved Swastikas from consideration, as they are unmistakably derived from the straight-lined figures, and because in them the ornamental character often predominates. The meaning of the dots which sometimes accompany the first five designs is obscure. It may be doubted if there are any grounds for terming them 'nails.'

It will be observed that excepting special instances in which its meaning cannot be mistaken, I have omitted all reference to the oblique cross. It is not a figure from which the Swastika has been developed. Although in some cases it may have an import similar to that of the upright cross, in others it appears to possess a different meaning.

No hypothesis regarding the signification of the Swastika can be satisfactory unless it furnishes a reasonable explanation of all the simpler forms which I have illustrated. This I

1 Each of these plain types numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 is also often enclosed in one or more squares or circles.

2 The types numbered 1 and 2 are sometimes drawn with more lines, up to seven in number. The forms numbered 2 and 3 are used by some members of the Kurnai tribe of South-east Australia, as personal marks on opossum skin rugs (Howitt, The Native Tribes of SouthEast Australia, p. 74).

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