Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Svastika Confusions (Buddhist)

Svastika - Yungdrung Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Right Turning
- Left Turning
- Buddhas w/ Svastika
- Yantra w/ Svastika
- Bliss Whorl
- Bon Svastika
- Others...

Video: Svastika Confusions (Buddhist)

Confusions and questions about the appearance and uses of the svastika are generally found among Buddhists. Followers of the Bon religion usually do not have questions or queries about the yungdrung (svastika) as it is fairly clearly defined in the literature and art.

For Buddhists the svastika is an auspicious symbol and one of the many marks on the soles of the feet of a fully enlightened Buddha. In some depictions the bottom of each toe is marked with a svastika. Buddhists do not make a difference between a right turning and a left turning svastika, both are equal and the same.

In the Chinese Buddhist tradition it is often common to see a svastika drawn on the chest of a buddha figure. The figures can be Shakyamuni, Amitabha, Bhaishajyaguru, or any other buddha. The direction of the legs of the svastika is not important. They could be right or left pointing. With Himalayan art it is not the custom to place a svastika on the chest of any deity, buddha or otherwise.

Buddhist yantra diagrams will sometimes employ svastika symbols and these can be right or left turning. Within the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism some examples of initiation cards with a left turning svastika can be found although they are not common.

Small square carpets intended as seat coverings depicting a double vajra (vishvavajra) will often have four svastikas in the corners. In this particular use the svastikas represent firmness and stability. Generally the symbols alternate with the legs turning right or left creating a pleasing and balanced pattern.

Jeff Watt 12-2021

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).