Re: swastika

From: John Hudson (
Date: Tue May 08 2007 - 15:36:26 CDT

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    Adam Twardoch wrote:

    > But the "gothic" monolinear
    > Chinese or Indic swastika looks the same as the Nazi one, simply because
    > the Nazis borrowed the Indic symbol and drew it with a plain,
    > simple-width tool.

    The most distinctive characteristic of the Nazi use of the swastika was that they rotated
    it 45 degrees. Monolinear strokes are found in swastikas all over the world both before
    and after the Nazi period in Europe.

    > Encoding a Nazi swastika makes as much sense as encoding the Pinochet
    > five-arm-star, the Stalin five-arm-star and the Mao five-arm-star
    > separately.

    I agree that encoding something explicitly called e.g. NAZI SWASTIKA SYMBOL makes no sense
    at all. The question is really whether rotated swastikas should be encoded independently
    of the flat baseline swastikas.

    To get a sense of the sheer variety of forms the swastika has taken, I recommend spending
    an afternoon with this person: -- he has most of them tatoo'd on
    his body. Alternatively, browse his Gentle Swastika pages.

    Some of these forms should be encoded, others treated as glyph variants. The key is to
    determine what aspects of direction, rotation or ornamentation are considered significant
    enough to justify separate encoding. The use of particular forms by particular cultures,
    religions, political parties or regimes seems to me irrelevant except insofar as it might
    recommend a plain text distinction between particular forms.

    U+534D and U+5350 have implied CJK ideographic widths, i.e. like ideographic punctuation
    they are particular implementations rather than generic characters. I have used these
    character codes in Devanagari fonts, but only because I lacked a generic symbol option.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Gulf Islands, BC
    We say our understanding measures how things are,
    and likewise our perception, since that is how we
    find our way around, but in fact these do not measure.
    They are measured.   -- Aristotle, Metaphysics

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