Writing about….Paestum or Poseidonia

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The Doric temple of Hera, the wife of Zeus,  in Paestum, Italy, an outpost of ancient Greece.

The ceramic  ceremonial bust of the Goddess Hera. Classical period. Paestum,
Italy-Archaeological Museum of Paestum

 

The word ‘swastika’ is a Sanskrit word (‘svasktika’) meaning ‘It is’, ‘Well Being’, ‘Good Existence, and ‘Good Luck’. However, it is also known by different names  in different countries – like ‘Wan’ in China, ‘Manji’ in Japan, ‘Fylfot’ in England, ‘Hakenkreuz’ in Germany and ‘Tetraskelion’ or ‘Tetragammadion’ in Greece.

Even in the early twentieth century, the swastika was still a symbol with positive connotations.

For 3,000 years, the swastika meant life and good luck. But because of the Nazis, it has also taken on a meaning of death and hate

In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, swastika means «well-being». The symbol has been used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains for millennia and is commonly assumed to be an Indian sign.

The Nazi use of the swastika stems from the work of 19th Century German scholars translating old Indian texts, who noticed similarities between their own language and Sanskrit. They concluded that Indians and Germans must have had a shared ancestry and imagined a race of white god-like warriors they called Aryans. German nationalist movements saw the swastika as the Germans’ link to the Aryan “master race” and a “symbol of ‘Aryan identity’ and German nationalist pride,” the Holocaust Museum says, and it soon “became associated with the idea of a racially ‘pure’ state.

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The Stonemason’s Yard about 1725 by Canaletto

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Τhe Stonemason’s Yard’ is considered one of Canaletto’s finest works. The view is one across the Campo (small square) S. Vidal, looking over the Grand Canal to the church of S. Maria della Carità (Saint Mary of Charity). The square has been temporarily transformed into a workshop for repairing the nearby church (not seen in the picture) of S. Vidal. The blocks of Istrian stone were brought by water to the square. The ‘campanile’ (bell-tower) of the church of S. Maria della Carità on the far side of the Grand Canal collapsed in 1744, after the painting was made, and was not rebuilt.

The painting is not precisely datable but the bold composition, the densely applied paint and the careful execution of the figures are characteristic of Canaletto’s works of the mid- to late 1720s. The informal nature of the scene and the unusual view across the Grand Canal suggest that it was made for a local Venetian patron rather than a foreign visitor to Venice.