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Iwar

The Swastika symbol in tattoos

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The other day I came across this piece by Chad Koeplinger

206984_10150166078463724_813288723_6479154_2024601_n.jpg

And it got me thinking...

I´ve seen quite a few tattoos done by respected artists with the swastika symbol incorporated in it. I assume that the majority of the members of this board already know that different variations of this symbol has been present for thousands of years before it was adopted by the nazi party in the 1920`s, but for most people today it is commonly assosiated with some form of white supremacism. Atleast in the Western part of the world.

I´m sure none of the tattoos I just referred to was done with that ideoligy behind it, but almost anyone who sees a tattoo like that will immediately draw that conclusion. It makes me wonder why anyone wants it tattooed at all (even if it is a different variation of it and for completely different reasons).

In the bonus episode of Tattoo Age Freddy Corbin mentioned that not even the Indian people would want the swastika symbol tattooed on them, despite it being represented throughout their religious artwork.

I believe the swastika in the Koeplinger tattoo is the buddhist variation, but please correct me if I`m wrong.

.....................................

(I´ve considered back and forth on whether or not to post this thread as I don´t want to offend anyone or start an unhealthy discussion. I´ll leave it up to @dari , @hogg , @steve1461686340 and the other moderators to decide it´s worth a shot.)

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From my thinking, maybe it would be good, people that know the old meaning of the swastika can enlighten anyone that asks them about it. Also what I know about the Nazi swastika is that its rotated at a 45 degree angle.

But great looking tattoo none the less.

[edit] Just looked on Wikipedia at it states the different nazi swastikas:

a 45° black swastika on a white disc as in the NSDAP and national flags;

a 45° black swastika on a white lozenge (e.g., Hitler Youth);

a 45° black swastika with a white outline was painted on the tail of aircraft of the Luftwaffe;

a 45° black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a white disc (e.g., the German War Ensign);

an upright black swastika outlined by thin white and black lines on a white disc (e.g., Personal standard of Adolf Hitler in which a gold wreath encircles the swastika; the Schutzstaffel; and the Reichsdienstflagge, in which a black circle encircles the swastika);

small gold, silver, black, or white 45° swastikas, often lying on or being held by an eagle, on many badges and flags

a swastika with curved outer arms forming a broken circle, as worn by the SS Nordland Division

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It's funny--just last week, I was thinking about ManWoman, the guy in the old Modern Primitives book who is covered in swastkas. I know that his mission is to reclaim the swastika and educate people on its true meaning, but no one is gonna see a dude with hella swazzie tats and think, "You know, I'd like to hear this fellow out."

My guess is that some people who get the symbol feel like they're "getting away" with something, knowing that they can play the get out of jail free card by saying, "But that's not what it really means!" I mean, you gotta know that it's gonna deeply offend some people, which is fine, of course, but I'd like to to see someone own up to that. But like I said: that's just my guess.

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yeah, i've noticed a lot of swastikas in work too. in germany, where i live, it is illegal to display the hooked cross. my own theory on why it is so popular, especially among the dirty hippy hand poking crowd, is that it has become a reverse symbol of rebellion, since it is illegal. and i know at least one guy who does it because he thinks he's so clever and wants to be confrontational. outside of germany, i don't know why anyone would get it. even the indians know it is a nazi symbol now.

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If it's used in the same context it used to be (eg. you see a lot of old religious statues with swastikas on them), and it's on a person who is from a faith where that symbol is important, I can see how it might be acceptable.

However, I would guess most people who get swastika tattoos are not part of that religion(s?), and are just doing it to be "controversial". It would be very hard not to form an immediate judgement of a person with a swastika tattoo (either "white supremacist", "hippie swastika-reclaimer with no right to use that symbol" or "shit-stirrer").

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It would be very hard not to form an immediate judgement of a person with a swastika tattoo (either "white supremacist", "hippie swastika-reclaimer with no right to use that symbol" or "shit-stirrer").

I don't think that "hippie" is gonna the first word to come to most people's minds when they see a swastika. Otherwise, I agree with your point.

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Here's something (sorry for the length) taken from the blog of a fairly well known and well respected tattoo artist. I think I'll omit his name for now.

IMG_1141.jpg

"I've always found anti-social imagery compelling. It challenges ones common sense; a persons sense of decency and their idea of "Good & Evil".

It also can adversely reaffirm ones core instinctual concept of right and wrong and, if you are so inclined, bolster a persons "Fuck You" attitude about the world around them. So in this regard such "taboo" subjects prove to be different masters for different servants.

I find the hazy margin of ambiguousness an image commonly held as offensive exists in fascinating. How is it that one image is acceptable to one person while it causes another to shrink in terror or sneer in disgust? Inside this line in the sand so to speak are the real questions.A question that cuts to the core of the subject matter itself. What is right and what is wrong? If there is such a thing why can't everyone agree what it is in the first place? And more over an even deeper question arises from that as well. If we are merely animals then wouldn't the horrendous nature of such a dark symbology just be an extension of our core instinct to annihilate what ever gets in out way?

Finally where do you fall INSIDE the line of demarcation ? This taboo no mans land?

While I obviously Cringe at the idea of romanticizing Nazism in any form and just so I'm clear I don't feel the manner in which this painting was conceived does that by the way, what is it about this painting that identify with and even like? Why would I chose to spend my time painting such negativity into the world?

Perhaps it's my desire to be left alone by most people? Nothing in the world could possibly top this as a way of letting people know to stay the hell away from you. Still I feel the composition grasps on to a certain charm as rotten as the core may be.

My painting is drawn in a style indicative of 80's tattooing A period of time I view as more cut and dry compared to today's blurred line of reality and fantasy. Of real and unreal. Of scripted reality Vs. cold harsh brutal reality.Of black and white (no pun intended).

Happiness and "feeling good" is what our society is based upon here in the West after all. This belief sprung from the 1960's, flourished in the 70's, matured in the 80's and 90's. And now at the start of a new decade in a new millennium the cracks have begun to form at the base of this structure from the shear weight of all of its moral and social entitlements. And of its own grotesque vices as well....I'm Left to ponder: what are the consequence of this way of life both good and bad going to be for us all?

I feel I made this painting because I just felt like adding a few more needles to Joe camel's back so to speak. Not for some kind of pro-nationalist statement or an affirmation of some kind of bloated illogical racial idea but because I felt like saying fuck this easygoing softness in us. I want the viewer to reaffirm their commitments. I want them to think past the fleeting pathetic pre-programmed plastic knee jerk television has drummed into them. I want the viewer to connect to the painting in a manner that causes either anger and resentment or praise and adoration. And ultimately I want the viewer to emerge from the moral no man's land that so many in today's world apathetically wonder through recommitted. I want battle lines to be draw so we can bring last centuries tired arguments and the beginning of this centuries short comings and false promises to a close.

In essence I want the house of cards to fall."

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"I feel I made this painting because I just felt like adding a few more needles to Joe camel's back so to speak. Not for some kind of pro-nationalist statement or an affirmation of some kind of bloated illogical racial idea but because I felt like saying fuck this easygoing softness in us. I want the viewer to reaffirm their commitments. I want them to think past the fleeting pathetic pre-programmed plastic knee jerk television has drummed into them. I want the viewer to connect to the painting in a manner that causes either anger and resentment or praise and adoration. And ultimately I want the viewer to emerge from the moral no man's land that so many in today's world apathetically wonder through recommitted. I want battle lines to be draw so we can bring last centuries tired arguments and the beginning of this centuries short comings and false promises to a close.

In essence I want the house of cards to fall."

Sid+Vicious.png

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Re: The Swastika symbol in tattoos

If it's used in the same context it used to be (eg. you see a lot of old religious statues with swastikas on them), and it's on a person who is from a faith where that symbol is important, I can see how it might be acceptable.

However, I would guess most people who get swastika tattoos are not part of that religion(s?), and are just doing it to be "controversial". It would be very hard not to form an immediate judgement of a person with a swastika tattoo (either "white supremacist", "hippie swastika-reclaimer with no right to use that symbol" or "shit-stirrer").

-----

Freddy Corbin has one on the entire top of his hand.

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I can't comment on a swastika as bold as the one used in the first post but I know the Sayagata pattern used in MANY Japanese tattoos as a pattern on cloth is made up of interlocking swastikas.

Here's a tattoo by Dominic Vasquez with the sayagata pattern

18870_1402937033833_1244566102_31193191_1349673_n.jpg

It also seems to be the most common thing in pattern/dotwork master Xed Le Head, I believe they use it in the Buddhist/Hindu text where I believe it originated. Him and his whole crew have them EVERYWHERE including all over their faces, some bold others more obscure...

you can see it on this guys face...

200716_10150116711330988_626065987_6920651_7985284_n.jpg

and on this back tattoo done by Tomas Tomas...

26799_102725646434494_100000911779743_21454_1827200_n.jpg

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Getting back to Perez mentioning asia-

I am a little vague on it but I think kongo zen among other traditions still make use of it (maybe those signs are directions for temples?). I remember training in the budokan, a martial arts centre in Tokyo, and there was a large group of Shorinji Kempo practitioners training next to us with the same symbol embroidered on the chest of their dogi. If you google 'shorinji kempo' and swastika there are various references to their use of it.

I guess I admire the idea of the 'reclaim the swastika' movement in principle, but in practice I suspect (a) the symbol is just too far gone in most parts of the world and (b) as others have said, you have to wonder about the motivations of someone who would go so far as to get it tattooed on them.

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Its a real shame because use of the Swastika goes back to the bronze age at least and if you go into any big city in the uk at least, youll see swastika designs on loads of pre ww2 buildings . I guess hitler took the "luck" out of it.

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There are houses where I live in London that use swastikas as a religious blessing at the entrances during certain times of year - it's all about context, you'd have to be really narrow minded to read any Nazi connotation in to it given their decorative nature and the ethnic make up of those areas.

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in world of ever changing symbolism I say its ok to let this die out in the western world. Like stated any white person seen near this symbol is painted a fascist.

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There are houses where I live in London that use swastikas as a religious blessing at the entrances during certain times of year - it's all about context, you'd have to be really narrow minded to read any Nazi connotation in to it given their decorative nature and the ethnic make up of those areas.

I think this shows the differences between Europe and the US. The swastika is a symbol of evil and blind ignorance of others based on religion or the color of their skin. In the US we (or at least me) don't have a recollection of the swastika meaning anything more than the symbol for the Nazis and white extremists. Up until this forum I wasn't aware of the true or initial meaning of the symbol.

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IMG_1141.jpg

that image was drawn at my request dating back to 1970's biker tattoos and specifically a tattoo on an old friend of mine. i own that painting and he tattooed it on my leg (minus the SS bolts) and i love it. again, obviously its going to have some shock value, and the artist is no more of a nazi than i am.

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I think it's funny that people still jump on the swastika and don't think twice about a Mjollnir, cross, clovers, runes, 88's or any of the other numerical coded WP gang affiliated stuff. Granted, I'm not seeing any of those symbols in reputable tattooer's portfolios, but I bet people wouldn't raise the stink they do w/ the swastika. There was actually some chick on LA Ink that got Corey Miller to tattoo a Mjollnir on her back because she stated her boyfriend's name was Thor-led to some pretty funny jokes.

If I was sitting at a bus stop w/ a hipster sporting a hand poked swastika or a guy looking armored up with black and gray runes, I'd be more wary of the latter. Personally, I know what the symbol means to me and I wouldn't choose to put that out there.

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It's funny--just last week, I was thinking about ManWoman, the guy in the old Modern Primitives book who is covered in swastkas. I know that his mission is to reclaim the swastika and educate people on its true meaning, but no one is gonna see a dude with hella swazzie tats and think, "You know, I'd like to hear this fellow out."

Also funny, ManWoman is a friend of my brother-in-law's family! So he grew up around him and we got to talking about this very subject over the summer. He (brother-in-law) was amazed that I'd heard of ManWoman and was really interested in the idea of "reclaiming" the symbol.

I'd say most of the tattoos seem like a genuine attempt to reincorporate or reclaim the symbol, but it's the presentation that can get people, to state the obvious. Seems about half and half; half a more understated, "respectful" design where it's incorporated more subtly, and the other half is the big, loud swastikas, which I actually really like but don't think I'm ready to sport myself. Also the wearer of the tattoo may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed..

My guess is that some people who get the symbol feel like they're "getting away" with something, knowing that they can play the get out of jail free card by saying, "But that's not what it really means!" I mean, you gotta know that it's gonna deeply offend some people, which is fine, of course, but I'd like to to see someone own up to that. But like I said: that's just my guess.

Yep, I'd agree. I doubt most people are.. mature enough or could speak intelligently about the design. Even if you're an articulate genius you can't control other peoples' reactions. Personally, I thought about asking for one with my last tattoo (with some other background elements) but decided that since it was on my shin, I didn't think (and still don't think) I'd like to be in the situation where I'm wearing shorts and who knows who I'd have to explain myself to. It's funny, too, since I'd be willing to bet most of us when we started getting tattoos, a lot of it was wrapped up in doing your own thing or "flouting society's conventions" or whatever. Maybe not anymore, but I digress.. I've been thinking of incorporating the symbol into a much larger piece on my thigh so I can control who sees it.

A lot of it is shock value but that's usually necessary for some kind of change. But that's a huge responsibility.

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I think it's funny that people still jump on the swastika and don't think twice about a Mjollnir, cross, clovers, runes, 88's or any of the other numerical coded WP gang affiliated stuff. Granted, I'm not seeing any of those symbols in reputable tattooer's portfolios, but I bet people wouldn't raise the stink they do w/ the swastika. There was actually some chick on LA Ink that got Corey Miller to tattoo a Mjollnir on her back because she stated her boyfriend's name was Thor-led to some pretty funny jokes.

If I was sitting at a bus stop w/ a hipster sporting a hand poked swastika or a guy looking armored up with black and gray runes, I'd be more wary of the latter. Personally, I know what the symbol means to me and I wouldn't choose to put that out there.

Mjølner, or Thors hammer if you will, is actually one of the most common tattoos I see around my neck of the woods. I think it's a lame ass design for a tattoo, but I never considered it racist or offensive. Same goes for runes. Plenty of norwegians get their name, their kids names, their dogs name etc in runes.

The norwegian flag on the other hand is more of a tabu to get tattooed here and will more likely be associated with racism than runes or mjølner.

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"...The norwegian flag on the other hand is more of a tabu to get tattooed here and will more likely be associated with racism than runes or mjølner."

I think you have a point there-it's about context. I was reading a thread somewhere else about things that are uniquely American, and one of the things that came up repeatedly is how we have flags everywhere- our homes, businesses, churches, and tattoos. In other parts of the world, that kind of nationalism is looked at as maybe xenophobic? It raises the question: If a person has a tattoo to declare their cultural/ideological identity ( and not the Nazi thing), is it more of an issue, then say, if I had an American flag tattoo? I worked w/ military guys that had tattoos that were service related and the company had a policy about what was/wasn't an offensive tattoo-I think they were all deemed okay.

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