Monday, August 30, 2010

The Swastika Quilt

Did you see this article in the LA Times a few weeks ago? A 90 year old man came across an heirloom quilt - probably made in the 1910s or 1920s. It was meticulously crafted and still in excellent condition. He ended up donating it to a local museum, who's mission is to "preserve and interpret" the history of their town. To date, the museum has yet to display this work of art.

The pattern of the quilt in question has been called many things, including "Whirligig." But this whirligig isn't the same whirligig that you and I know and love. This type of whirligig also goes by the name "Swastika."

(Photo courtesy of

My Jewish heritage typically makes me recoil from such a symbol, but this quilt was made long before the swastika became a symbol of the Nazis. It was made artfully and, most likely, with a pure heart.

And even if it was made with ill intentions, why shouldn't it be displayed in a museum? History is history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Who's to say what the current en vogue quilt patterns might represent in 100 more years? Might our current whirligigs or spiderwebs one day have sinister interpretations? Possibly. But will that future interpretation negate the time and love that goes into the quilts we create today? Never. Art is art and should be displayed, regardless of the context in which it may or may not have been made.


Jenny said...

great post jules

LKellsAntiques said...

I have an old quilt that has a block swastika design...I believe it was made very early 1900s so of course the design was simply that...a design that has been around for centuries adapted to quilting. Interesting. I got this quilt along with a few other textiles in a lot at auction, all contents total of $10 bid.