Skip to comments.Swastika quilt donated to Greeley Museums is quirk of history
Posted on 06/28/2010 9:08:28 PM PDT by Daffynition
GREELEY It was stitched with loving care, most likely to provide warmth and comfort to a family trying to brave another stark prairie winter.
Its creator had no idea the 66-inch-by-80-inch quilt would one day be seen as a cloth symphony of one of the world's darkest symbols.
Swastikas, 27 in all, cover the quilt that was donated to the Greeley Museums late last year. Some are pink, others red, still more are tan and white.
Museum officials say they think the quilt was created around 1900, certainly before the design was adopted as the national flag of Nazi Germany. It was found in a hope chest by members of a farming family in the Briggsdale area.
The family did not want to be contacted for this story. Museum manager Erin Quinn said she thinks the women who stitched the quilt probably put it away when Adolph Hitler was rising to power in the 1930s under the banner of the swastika.
Although happy to tuck it away, the family probably did not want the quilt destroyed because it was so well-made, Quinn said.
"It's beautiful with wonderful workmanship," she said. "It's in wonderful condition."
It is also not surprising a swastika was used, she said, because the design has been a popular fixture in many cultures for centuries.
Ancient cave drawings included swastikas. In the Sanskrit language, the word swastika means well-being, said JoAnna Luth Stull, Greeley Museums registrar.
The swastika quilt-block pattern is also known as the Battle X of Thor, Catch Me If You Can, Devil's Dark Horse, Whirligig and Zig Zag, Luth Stull said.
Yet Hitler's use of the swastika changed people's perception of it, Quinn said.
"Certainly a lot of different people would have a lot of different things to say about this," she said.
"Oh, my God," said University of Colorado history professor David Shneer, when told of what the family found in the hope chest.
Although the swastika is used innocently enough in many cultures Thailand for instance it still stirs hatred in many people, Shneer said.
"In many European countries, it is against the law to fly the swastika," he said. "It still provokes a lot of hard feelings for people."
Swastikas were already seen by many Germans as a symbol of their country's historical roots in early civilizations before Hitler came to power, Shneer said.
Hitler took the swastika one step further, using it to tout German superiority over others, he said.
"You can't even show that symbol in the United States without it being part of someone's political bent," Shneer said.
The Greeley Museums might one day put the swastika quilt on general display. But first it would be framed by plenty of context, Quinn said.
There will also be discussion beforehand, Quinn said.
"Would this make someone mad? Would this be hurtful? We will have those talks," she said.
I am laughing out loud !
I still like the late astronomer Carl Sagan’s hypothesis in his book “Comet”. That through atmospheric/optical effects the gleaming core of a comet can sometimes take on distinct shapes and that sometime in the eleventh century a comet passed by earth that had a twinkling swastika-like center, seen by all humanity for a few nights.
The swastika pops up spontaneously, simultaneously, in art all around the world at this time—from Australian rock carvings to the Norman Bayeux tapestry.
Quilts of the Third Reich
Interesting, the 45th seems to have had a propensity to executing prisoners on several occasions, including the Dachau Massacre.
Symbols, even historical ones, seem to have power of their own.
I remember years ago when I was in 1st grade we had a project to draw repeating patterns on a piece of paper.
One of the children drew for his last pattern the form of a swastika. I still remember my teacher, whom I adored, going off the deep end over it.
She made him cut the end of the project off his paper, and gave us all a strong lecture on how it stood for people who did terrible things. She was Jewish, but at the time I didn’t understand. You could see from her face how upset she was.
I didn’t understand what the kid did that was so terrible that he had to cut his project up. In essence it was a good lesson for me. It was the first real awareness I had of PC and how people react to certain things above and beyond.
The lesson obviously struck home because it’s one of most strong first grade memories after all these years.
Reminds me of the time a kid was reading aloud from a book about seashores, and mispronounced the genus of rockweed/bladderwrack (a variety of seaweed). Severe punishment ensued and the poor kid was so confused...
These are exceptionally rare and quite valuable today, though not because of any connection to the Nazi regime.
Quilters, Quilters.... uber alles....
But here in America, people walk around wearing peace signs all the time! One man's hate is another man's tee-shirt!
Swastika Hotel, Raton, NM
Native American symbol, Korean symbol, Thai symbol.
All before the National Socialists adopted it.
No...the swastika was a runic symbol and indian tribes sported it. That why it is on quilts. The nazi’s just adopted it for their “tribe”! Nothing comes from nowhere!
“”Would this make someone mad? Would this be hurtful? We will have those talks,” she said.”
At first I was gonna’ call this guy some sort of PC wimp. However, since one of the primary jobs of a museum is to educate, they are at least saying the right thing.
If their supporting explanations come across as truly educational, including how pervasive this symbol is historically, some folks might even walk away saying, “That’s really interesting. I had no idea that someone besides Nazi’s used the swastika”.
Given the state of the secondary school system in the US, the museum might well provide that rare “teachable moment”.
If they write their information like a disclaimer, then yes, plenty of folks will reflexively become offended/outraged/troubled/hurt. Lot’s more folks need to “man up”. Just state the facts, and those that have risen above the PC psychosis will have learned something. The rest...may be too far gone to help.
The swastika quilt above dates from 1860-1880. The owner states that the quilt is hand-quilted at 9 stitches per inch.
This swastika quilt, according to eBay seller "victoria7384," is a Native American quilt that was made in the early 1900s. With 30 blocks, it measures 78" x 64" and features fabrics primarily in red, blue, black, and yellow.
Swastika Symbol of Fertility In India, the word symbolized fertility and good fortune and continues in use, today. Originally, the swastika was primarily an ancient solar symbol. According to the book, Signs and Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to Their Meanings and Origins (NY: Barnes and Noble, 1996), the swastika has taken on many other meanings. This symbol is part of the Greek tradition to honor Zeus, Helios, and other deities. For the Celts and Scandanavian people, the swastika represented Thor, the god of air, thunder, and lightening.
Close-up of a book cover published in February 1930 by Pitt L. Fitzgerald, Columbus, Ohio. This is a novel involving Native Americans, and the swastika symbol appears on a number of its pages, sometimes two of them at the top of the page.
You bet. The building is still there, as far as I know. The facia of the brick pattern is, you guessed it, swastikas.
Hopefully, it will educate in the positive way you describe. ;)
The Indian swastika is usually widdershins. The German one rotates the other way.
It was a symbol of happiness, blessings, good fortune and good will. The swastika is often seen with rounded corners or in the form of the windmill or maltese cross. The hooks are sometimes stylized to form leaves.
Antique flannel with swastika and Native American images for good luck. photo courtesy of Stephanie Whitson
Considering the colors on this quilt, it hardly resembles any sort of German Socialist emblem.
"Lady Luck" pattern china produced by Sebring Porcelain of Ohio, circa 1920.
I can hardly believe my eyeballs. ‘The Trail of the Ragged Fox’ was one of my Dad’s favorite books as a young man. A few years before he died in 2006 (at age 78) he asked me to try to find him a copy of that book.
I hope it’s not a painful memory for you. Were you able to find the book for him?
Is that the one in South Dakota? If so, I’ve been there. Is there still a swastika on it? I don’t remember that.
They change the design/theme every year, once the birds pick off all of the corn.
This is interesting. I know somewhere else where there is a partial quilt, framed, from at least 100 years ago, that has various patterns stitched into it including a swastika. I had always wondered about that, but I knew it had been a symbol in some American Indian art.
No, I never found it. I even requested help from the local librarian but got nowhere. This was actually about ten years ago that Dad asked me to try to find that book and I was not at all computer/internet savvy. Today I’m sure I could find that book - - and nearly anything else - - quite quickly. I still have the piece of paper on which he wrote the book title.
No painful memories at all - - nothing but great memories, although I sure do miss him.
Thanks for asking, and FRegards,
Thanks for the link!
You sucker punched me with that one! I’m, literally, laughing out loud.
fylfot cross (fylfot meaning ‘four feet’)
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