The swastika--or "svastika" from the ancient Sanskrit language--is one of our most universal and positive symbols. Literally it means "auspicious mark", but in various cultures it has signified well-being, highest perfection, happiness, pleasure or good luck. Its geographic dispersion was wide in early times, beginning in the Indus River Valley and extending westward across Persia and Asia Minor to ancient Troy during the Neolithic Period. The earliest artifact that displays the symbol dates back to 10,000 B.C. The swastika is the primary symbol of Buddhism and Hinduism to this day. It also appears in early Christianity, Judaism and Islam, though often in stylized form.
The swastika appeared independently on objects from several prehistoric American Indian cultures, the earliest examples being artifacts excavated at Fains Island and Toco Mounds, Tennessee, and Hopewell Mound in Ohio. Later, the symbol appeared on ceremonial sashes of the Kansa and Sac Indians. The symbol meant good luck or stood for the wind and its four directions. It seems also to have been used by sun worshippers among several tribes in the same region (Kansas).
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