Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reader Comment: Swastikas

 
A message from Byter Kerrie:

Hi Otto,

I assume you already know (and is probably in part 2) - there are swastikas on the floor of Customs House in Sydney. When they were restoring the building there was a great debate about whether they should be removed - it would have meant retiling the whole of the ground floor. Heritage advisers successfully argued their case to keep the floor.

Happy Queen's Birthday


Kerrie


Thanks, Kez.  Actually, I wasn’t aware of that but I will take the time to visit Customs House to have a look at the floor the next time I’m at Circular Quay.  Apparently there is a plaque in Customs House explaining that the symbols on the floor are not swastikas but fylfots, ancient good luck symbols that have the arms pointing counter clockwise, whereas swastikas point clockwise.  The plaque states that the fylfot symbolises also revival, prosperity, longevity, blessings, happiness and fertility.  Customs House was built in 1845 and was the “front door” for people and goods arriving in Circular Quay by boat.  The use of the fylfots was therefore intended to be a welcoming sign for those arrivals.

The floor of Customs House

Another view

Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney

Apparently the 1920s-era Dymocks Building in George Street, Sydney, which includes a multi-level shopping arcade, has tiled floors which incorporate numerous left-facing swastikas. Brass plaques near the lifts, believed to have been affixed at the time of World War 2, explain that these are fylfots, not swastikas.  I have read a further report that the tiled floors were replaced due to agitation at the presence of the apparent swastikas.  This was so despite the symbols having been present before the Nazi rise to power.  I am unaware as to whether the floors are gone or wjether they remain.  Does anyone know? 

The next instalments will look at other early uses of the swastika.


3 comments:

  1. they are still there, what is also interesting is that you can access all floors of the dymocks building via the stairs except for level 6 (where the fylfot symbol is)

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  2. so silly if we can't access level cos someone may be offended. Fylfots go backs a 1000 or so years. The ant Hitler mob can go too far. Do they baulk at Samurai swords and kimonos. No!

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