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Saturday, September 16, 2021

In an almost literal forest-for-the-trees scenario, a swath of mountainside forestland in Kyrgyzstan that forms an aerial-view swastika has had locals buzzing for decades.

The mystery’s persistence is in its way surprising, given that as a Nazi swastika the symbol is imperfect, whether by design or because of uneven terrain. Hitler’s swastika was tilted 45 degrees; the formation here is almost level. Moreover, the arms do not mimic the Third Reich’s symbol, but its mirror image — a swastika in reverse.

Investigations center around World War II-era German prisoners of war somehow engineering this as an arboreal nose-thumbing, even though some say no such prisoners ever made it to this corner of the former Soviet Union. Absent some Nazi connection, no one seems to have an alternate explanation.

I think I do, though.

What struck me first was the location of this oddity: Near the Kyrgyz village of Tash-Bashat, “near the edge of the Himalayas”, as described in the Times article. That would be right next door to Tibet and the Indian subcontinent.

Secondly, the shape of this tree arrangement, dubbed the Eki Naryn swastika: A reverse mirror-image of the familiar Nazi symbol, and with a level orientation. Why that much of a variance?

Simple. The swastika symbol has a 3,000-year history, being used in various cultures long before Hitler’s crew co-opted it. One of the most prominent places where it appears with regularity is south Asia:

The swastika has held a place of great importance in India and Asia for thousands of years, and is widely used by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

The swastika is to be seen everywhere across the Indian sub-continent: sculptured into temples both ancient and modern, decorating buildings, houses, shops, painted onto public buses, in taxis - even decorating the dashboards of the three-wheeler motor rickshaws. Many religious and spiritual books display the symbol. It may well be the most prevalent symbol one will see in India.

I’m surprised this angle wasn’t mentioned. It seems much more probable to me, given the proximity of Tibet as a Buddhist center of influence. The particular style for this swastika points much more to Buddhist use than a Nazi one. Makes a lot more sense to me.

I’m not arguing for the preservation of this tree formation just on this possibility. While I appreciate the swastika’s historical record as a neutral symbol, let’s face it: The Nazis associated it with an unmistakably evil intent, and that’s not going to go away anytime soon (although I think it will, eventually). But I think the hunt for non-existent Nazis in this corner of the globe is pretty silly, when a more obvious explanation is apparent.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/16/2006 04:28:18 PM
Category: History, Political
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  1. Yeah, back in my home-country (Japan) temple locations are marked on a map with the reverse swastika symbol. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read the articles. It IS in Asia after all…

    Comment by bassistlikeflea — 09/19/2006 @ 12:10:36 PM

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