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Kolovrat / Svarga – meaning of symbol

Svarga – also known as swiaszczyca, swarzyca, swarozyca, or an eight-armed kolovrat, is probably the best known and the most common slavic symbol (the oldest finds from the Polish areas containing this symbol are dated to even three thousand years before Christ).

Swastika
Swastika
kolovrat
Kolovrat

Svarga is one of the swastika variants, so it’s worth taking a look on it’s primary version at first. The easiest form of this symbol is an isoscles cross with kinked or “broken”  arms (usually perpendicular). The name comes from the sanskrit and can be translated as “gives prosperity”, “brings/creates luck” etc. (“su” means “good” and “asti” – “he is”, this way, “svasti” is translated as succes, prosperity). The oldest finds containing  swastika come from Armenia and areas of today’s Ukraine and are over twelve thousand years old. A bit younger copies has been found in Iran, India and China. Swastika is probably the most popular and universal symbol on the world, it can be found in Asia, Europe, both Americas and also Africa, moreover,  it appears in many monotheistic religions such as Judaism or Christianity.(most likely, secondary adapted). It’s hard to establish from where the swastika comes from and what is it’s primary origin, but it is quite certain, that in primary societies it was associated with solar cults and symbolized the fire and the sun – anyway, it’s enough to just pay attention to the fact, that the easiest way to present the sun is to show it’s rays coming from the inside, while swastica’s curved arms can  signify the movement of this star over the horizon. Sometimes, it is claimed , that there are two versions of swastika: dextral, associated with the sun and the day and opposite – sinistral (sauvastika) which symbolizes the night, darkness and magic.

swarzyca kruszwicka
Swarzyca Kruszwicka

 

On the Slavic areas, swarga was often placed especially on monuments, urns, as well as on coins, weapons or clothes. It also appears as a part of a different slavic symbol – Hands of God. Swarzyca is present in different forms and variants, from the easy ones, made up with few curved lines, to more complicated patterns.  It can have sharp, angular forms, or more rounded. One of the swarzyca’s forms is so called kolovrat, which is made up with eight arms with perpendicular, sharply ended and rounded “fractures” on the edges.

svarga
Svarga

 

The symbolism of the swarzyca (or generally swastika) is as simple and obvious, as ambiguous. Like I said before, it can symbolize the sun (especially the kolovrat has a very “sunny” shape). Number four is it’s important part, which also gives interesting connotations – four elements, four seasons and four sides of the world. Thereby svarga (and it’s universal version – swastika) can be a symbolic idea of reality, that surrounds us. The kolovrat along with it’s “dynamics” additionally expands the meaning of unceasing course of life, but also of it’s continuity, repetition and variability. Moreover, because it symbolizes the sun as same as the fire, it’s associated with one of the most important slavic deity, which is divine smith, Swarog. He’s the symbol, that brings prosperity, luck, as well as the protection from the bad forces.

 

Nowadays, most of the people unfortunately match swatika with nazism and nazi crimes and the awareness of it’s positive meaning, very old lineage and prevalence, is quite low. Meanwhile this symbol, before it was profaned by Hitler and his supporters, was often used as an emblem on uniforms of Polish Army, it was also willingly used by Podhale’s (Southern Poland) culture researchers – Stanislaw Radzikowski along with his father Walery and Mieczyslaw Karlowicz (till today in the place of his death there’s a stone with engraved swastika sign).

Przeczytaj oryginalny polski artykuł o symbolach takich jak kołowrót, swarga i swarzyca.

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About Agnieszka Widełka

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