THE OGMORE VALLEY

LOCAL HISTORY & HERITAGE SOCIETY

Tel: 01656 842 258

EMAIL: ovlhs@ovlhs.co.uk

Swastikas In The Valley

swastika

 It has recently come to light via a video posted on Youtube (search for “Ogmore Vale ‘Coal Washery’ remains 1998” or enter the URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Tlnf8Byt2Q) by a user called “Pantyrawel” that the mosiac on the 2nd Rhondda Main Colliery site, later the Central Ogmore Washery site, containing swastikas amongst other symbols was in fact still intact in 1998 and contained a hitherto unknown central symbol of a “Cross Patonce” within a black circle or “Annulet”. 

I have therefore also included the explanation of what the Cross Patonce and Annulet are and updated the artists impression of what the entrance-way marble floor would have looked like before it was vandalised sometime after 1998. 

Over the last year we have received several queries via our Facebook page from people wondering what on earth was a mosaic of “Nazi Swastikas and the Star of David” were doing in the valley? 

After enquiring just where this unusual grouping of opposing symbols was actually located, it quickly became clear that many people were not actually registering what they were actually seeing but putting two and two together and coming up with seven! 

The location is at the southern end of the valley, in the remains of what was, until 1985, the Ogmore Valley Central Coal Washery buildings and until recent years the marble flooring containing the mosaic of the alleged “Nazi Swastikas” and the “Star of David” had been covered over with a layer of earth. This, seemingly had naturally began to erode exposing more and more of the mosaic over the years but had also no doubt been helped along by many visitors to the ‘strange’ mosaic. 

The Ogmore Valley Local History Society has known of the mosaic for many years, with one member having helped to cover up the mosaic many years ago to prevent further vandalism as it’s not just today that the symbols were misinterpreted and shortly after World War II the centre of the Mosaic was damaged beyond repair. 

The “Star of David” : As the ‘Star of David’ is a six-sided star, simple arithmetic should have alerted anyone thinking the central star design belonged to the state of Israel straight away, the central star design is actually an eight-pointed Star, otherwise known as a “Gnostic Star” and has many definitions in a variety of ancient religions: 

Babylonian : In Babylonian symbolism, the goddess Ishtar is represented by an eight-pointed starburst, and she is associated with the planet of Venus. Today, some people equate the Greek Aphrodite, whom the Romans equated with their Venus, with Ishtar. Both goddesses represent lust and sexuality, although Ishtar also represents fertility and war. 

Judeo-Christian : The number eight frequently represents beginnings, resurrection, salvation and super-abundance. This has to do, in part, with the fact that the number seven is a number of completion. The eighth day, for example, is the first day of a new seven-day week, and a Jewish child enters into God’s Covenant on the eighth day of life via circumcision. 

Egyptian: Old Kingdom Egyptians recognized a group of eight deities, four male and four female, with the female bearing feminine forms of the male names: Nu, Nanet, Amun, Amunet, Kuk, Kauket, Huh, and Hauhet. Each pair represents a primal force, water, air, darkness, and infinity, and together they create the world and the sun god Ra from the primordial waters. Together, these eight are known as the Ogdoad, and this context is borrowed by other cultures which may represent it with an octagram. 

Star of Lakshmi: In Hinduism, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, has eight emanations known as Ashtalakshmi, which are represented by two entwined squares forming an octagram. These emanations represent eight forms of wealth: monetary, ability to transport, endless prosperity, victory, patience, health and nourishment, knowledge, and family. 

Buddhism: Buddhists use an eight-spoked wheel to represent the Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha as a means to escape suffering through the breaking of attachments. These paths are right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. 

The Swastikas: Whilst the Mosaic corner symbols are quite clearly Swastikas, they are not the Nazi Swastikas as adopted by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (later known as the Nazi Party) in 1920 who turned the arms to face to the right instead of the original versions whose arms all faced to the left. 

The original Swastika (also known as the Hakenkreuz, gammadion cross, cross cramponnée, fylfot, or tetraskelion) has its origin’s at least 11,000 years ago and It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and dates back at least 11,000 years and its spread can be traced to western and Middle-Eastern civilisations. It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. 

Swastika as a word has been commonly used in English since the 1870’s though the origin of the word is from the Sanskrit; Devanāgarī: which is transliterated svastika but is pronounced “swastika” when letters are used as in English. It means any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness, or any piece of luck or well-being. 

During World War One the British Government widely used the Swastika to advertise their war Bonds an example of which from our very own archive can be seen in this image. 

There is however a stronger link with the valley and the “Swastika”, as the Nantymoel Childrens Choir which successfully competed in many Eisteddfodau, received as a prize one year, a replica of the Battersea Shield, which was a bronze frontispiece of a ritual pre-Christian ( c. 350-50 BC) shield found in the River Thames near Battersea Bridge (hence “Battersea Shield”) is embossed with 27 swastikas in bronze and red enamel. Not only that but each member of the choir was also presented with an individual enamel badge which was a replica of the Swastikas found on the Celtic Battersea Shield.

Cross Patonce:
The Patonce Cross is any form of cross which has expanded ends, like the Pattee Cross, but with each arm terminating in floriated points like the Fleury Cross and Fleur-de-lis Cross. Sometimes there are two petals at the end of each arm, but usually three.

In heraldry, the three petals represent faith, wisdom and chivalry. The four arms spread these to the four comers of the world. As a Christian Cross, the three petals represent the Trinity and the total twelve petals represent the Apostles.

The term ‘Patonce’ refers to the arm ends and comes from the French patte d’once: paw of an ounce (snow leopard). This is rather curious because it looks nothing like the paw print of a snow leopard, or indeed any leopard, which like all cats have four toes. The only animals with three toes are the tapir, the rhinoceros and the dinosaur. But as we know, the French are romantic.
Annulet:

In heraldry, an annulet (i.e. “little ring”) is a common charge. It may allude to the custom of prelates to receive their investiture per baculum et annulum (‘by rod and ring’), and can also be described as a roundel that has been “voided” (i.e. with its centre cut out). In English and Canadian heraldry it is also used as the difference mark of a fifth son

So it would appear that the Swastika’s, the Eight-Pointed Star and the Cross Patonce that are found in the damaged mosaic were added as good luck symbols when the mosaic was originally laid, which was not when the Ogmore Valley Central Coal Washery was built in the 1950’s but when the 2nd Rhondda Main Colliery was constructed by Lewis Merthyr Collieries Limited from 1909 onwards.

The original location of the mosaic, when laid as new was the entrance to the Rhondda Main Colliery Surveyors Offices and now remains as one of the few reminders of the colliery industry in the Ogmore Valley.

Image taken from the Ogmore Vale Coal Washery remains 1998 Youtube Video showing centre of Mosiac- 50
The author’s impression of how the original Terrazzo Design would have looked like before the damage.

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