Manji Schmanji

I’ve written about Manjis before, how they resemble swastikas, and how I have no problem with their appearance in Japanese art, Anime Trading Cards, or anime toys.

However, there’s a nice little controversy brewing over at St. Louis University

There’s a painting by an Italian painter with a design that evokes a swastika.

According to the artist, an Italian priest named Renato Laffranchi, the painting depicts four rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden, forming four gardens that humanity is to tend. However, the rivers are depicted in the shape of a swastika, which is the cause of concern.

The Student Government resolved it should be removed

College President resolved it wouldn’t be

Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. has responded to the Faculty Senate’s and Student Government Association’s repeated requests for the removal of the painting, Four Rivers, currently hanging in the John Cook Business School Atrium. It appears that, contrary to both governing bodies’ wishes, the painting will remain, until it is scheduled to be rotated.

A Post Dispatch
article mentions that the swastika is an ancient symbol of good fortune, according to the artist. It’s a reminder of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust for some jolted viewers. The University News articles don’t mention the artist gave that excuse. I don’t accept it. It’s an ancient symbol of good fortune in Asian cultures, and Native American cultures. The artist is an Italian Priest.

I would actually accept the excuse, “I was drawing the rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden, the evocation of a swastika was purely unintentional.” If the Post is correct in the artist’s explanation, it suggests he was thinking about the swastika as he painted it. And considering his geographical location, he wasn’t thinking of it solely based on its history as a symbol of good fortune. I can’t believe he’s ignorant of his nation’s history.

Sorry, location matters. From an Italian Priest it’s not a manji, it’s a swastika.