Cambs Uni Publications


The Swastika in Sweden

16th November 2015
Posted by S Taylor

The Swedish for Swastika is Hakkors.

In common with the neighbouring countries of Norway, Finland and Iceland this symbol has appeared in many contexts and guises over the centuries.  There are links with mythology, manufacturing and the military forces of Sweden and Finland.

An early bracteate

Some of the earliest examples are to be found in Bracteates, many of which have been found in the districts of Gotland and Skåne.   Some of the key motifs include images of Thór and the Fenris wolf.

The term ‘bracteate’ (Latin,  Bracteatus) dates from the late 17th century. The first occurrence was in 1694, as a designation for one-sided silver coins.  These items of personal jewellery, delicately fashioned, have also been described as ‘looped uniface roundels’.  They consist of thin plates of silver or gold, and in addition to undoubted aesthetic appeal almost certainly had an amuletic function.

Sweden is richly endowed with runic remains, and there is an excess of 3,000 known runic inscriptions.  Occasionally the Swastika is found instead of a monumental cross shape.

Zoomorphic symbolism
Predatory bird

The predatory bird symbolism is mirrored in a number of bracteates from other parts of Scandinavia and similar in style to several Anglo-Saxon artefacts found in East Anglia and the South East of England.

The Bronze Age Tossene stone, north of Gothenberg, has often been linked with the Ilkley Swastika stone.

Earlier examples of this symbol can be found in most continents, but the earliest known example appears to be the Palaeolithic Swastika carvings from the Ukraine, etched on pieces of ivory and dating from between 18,000-15,000 BC.  Some Swastikas have been found carved on mammoth tusks!

An early commercial usage was developed in Jönkoping by J E Lundström in 1855.    This symbol was also used on a safety match box label.

Commercial logo

For many years the Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget [Now the ABB] employed a Hakkors for the company logo from the late 19th Century.  This was displayed on the Swedish Tourist Association Guide in 1920 but was discontinued in 1933.

A very similar usage is found in Iceland where the Hakakross is employed on maps as the cartographic symbol for hydroelectric and geothermal power stations.

Count Eric von Rosen had valued the Hakkors from a child when he discovered that it had been the good luck symbol of the Vikings centuries before.  When he flew his gift plane to Finland in 1918 it already had the Hakkors roundels painted in blue and white on the ski-plane.

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