A Symbol from Syria

Another anecdote from Charles Glass’s ‘Tribes with Flags’. This is from his visit to one of the Dead Cities near aleppo, to the church of St Simon Stylites:

“We walked on a floor of marble that Abu Abdo [local guide] said had come from Italy. He said the church formed a cross, the long sides north-siouth, and the arms east-west. “You see eight arches around teh column, and four apses.” he said, shining the mirror on each. “Now we look to holes in wall. the wall was marble.” On the baptismal fond was a Syrian symbol I had seen in many of the ruins, four stalks of wheat in a circle as though spun on a Catherine wheel. “That is called Dawrat al-Hayat, cycle of Life,” Abu Abdo said. “Dawra mean, we go up and we come back. Same the moon. Same the sun.” This symbol, in a stylised form, had been adopted in Syria and Lebanon by the modern Syrian Socialist Nationaalist Party, a group that believed in the political unity of what it called Syria, everything from Cyprus to Kuwait. In Germany, it had become, in an even more stylised, rigid form, the swastika.

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