Baldini has a Zia-whirling logs tattoo (by Thomas Hooper of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn) on each palm. Is this symbol offensive? Source:

Swastika or Whirling Logs? Tattoo Artist Reignites Debate Over Ancient Native Symbol


An Italian-born tattoo artist based in Santa Fe is stirring up debate over the meaning of an ancient, sacred, but much-maligned symbol. 

Like some contemporary Native American artists, notably the acclaimed Navajo textile artist Melissa Cody, Guido Baldini of Lost Cowboy Tattoo is using the "whirling logs" motif in his designs. The modified cross is better known as a swastika, the famous symbol of Nazi Germany. Prior to World War II, the whirling logs image was associated with good luck. "It's an auspicious symbol," Baldini says. "Why not use it?"

RELATED: Swastika Day Organizers Point to Symbol's Native Origins

Some Santa Fe residents, according to a story from KQRE News 13, are shocked by the design, and wish Baldini would not promote it (he also sells a t-shirt with a large version of the symbol and the words "GOOD LUCK"). Others seem particularly upset that he has applied it to the Zia, the Native symbol that appears on the New Mexico state flag.

The discussion about whether the symbol can ever regain its positive, pre-WWII connotation is likely to continue. But comments to date on the KQRE story and Baldini's Facebook page have all been supportive. "It is way overdue that the symbol is taken back and shown for what its true meaning is," said one of Baldini's Facebook friends who identified herself as Jewish. "The Nazis flipped this old Buddhist (later Navajo) symbol to mean chaos and anarchy. I love that you are taking back the whirling log." 

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Juliet's picture
Submitted by Juliet on
The version he's using doesn't look exactly like the design the Nazis perverted. We could go a long way towards defanging the negative connotations of the fylfot, manji sign, swastika by starting with these lesser-known variants.