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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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I have heard that the swastika has it's origin as an "Indian" symbol. By that, I don't know if people mean South Asian Indian or American Indian. Maybe it was some kind of what we would describe today as "new age" symbol for the owner of this hamburger stand.

Also, again speaking in almost complete ignorance, most of the symbols look like runes, or at least they look like runes to a person who, like me, knows nothing about runes.

Finally, I wonder if that swastika symbol was still there three or four years after this picture was taken.

Going from distant memory, the symbols are Deccan, as in Deccan Plateau, India. Look up the history of India on Wikipedia and they have a bit on vedic and Hindu iconography. I would not classify it so much as "new age" so much as classical Hindu. Dumas, Texas looks to be on the Wichita - Santa Fe corridor, so perhaps the family is part of the south Asian migration to this area during the railroad construction. If you ever in El Paso, be sure to visit the Chinatown there - best food outside of San Francisco.

Bob,

Thanks for the pointer. I really had no idea about South Asians migrating to that part of the country at that time period.

To go off on a tangent, I would guess that I would call something "new age" based on the intentions and knowledge of the user of the symbol(s). The term itself is probably anachronistic when applied to 1939, but I assumed that it was just some white person indulging in an orientalist iconogrpahy. Again, however, as you point out, it could be something different.

The symbols on the right are whimsical. The photo is taken either on or near Route 66, and I can read I excel, barbecue, and 7 Up. I'm sure others can pick out more.

The swastika would not have raised an eyebrow in the time and place of that photo. In 1939, the U.S. was not at war and middle America wasn't too concerned about Hitler yet. What a difference a few years makes.

Aren't the symbols all cattle brands? I know the 6666 is one, and I think I recognize others.

@NMissC

Aren't the symbols all cattle brands? I know the 6666 is one, and I think I recognize others.

I believe we have a winner. I was poring over Sanskrit, & Bahai iconography (I knew they use the swastika symbol) yesterday, but nothing I found seemed right. Those do look like cattle brands.

Trying to track this down by searching for swastica as a cattle brand, I hit a copy of this picture noting those are all cattle brand. Here's the swastica used on navaho blankets, with a reference to cattle brands.

This:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/49337086@N07/4525274963/

shows two different versions of the swaztika that are used by the buddhists (and others) and the Nazi version.

It being Texas it's a good bet they are all cattle brands. However, I've seen the swastica used as a decorative device all over the place on things built before the war: in stained glass windows, on lamp posts in Glendale, CA, on a civic building in Kansas City, MO. Even an old pulp magazine from the thirties featured it regularly on the cover for a time. Not because the publisher was a Nazi, but because it was considered, before the Third Reich's appropriation, to be a good luck symbol. Apparently if the interlocking symbols face one way they are Nazi--they will seem to say "SS," but that the Eastern luck symbol will be facing the opposite way, and say "ZZ." The stand has them as the "SS" version.

I believe democommie wins the gold star. As I seem to recall, the Nazi version of the symbol was, in fact, a bastardization of an original. I do not know if its origin lies within buddhism or Amerind cultures, but do not ever recall seeing it in Baha'i lore. Cannot imagine Hitler paying much attention to the people of Baha--- those folk were never as highly profiled as Jewish peoples.But, as they say: one never knows.

the Carpenter

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