If you have ever taken a trip to Turkey or Greece, you will certainly have seen it in homes, cars, offices, worn as jewelry by women, applied to children’s clothes, and even painted on Turkish Airlines planes: the Eye of Allah is in fact considered a powerful amulet against the evil eye and envy. So what is the evil eye?
Its origins are in Turkey, but it is also widespread in Greece. The names with which this symbol is known are many: evil eye or Eye of Allah, but also the Eye of Mashallah, nazar bonjuk. But why is this evil eye one of the most beautiful and powerful amulets for protection we can rely on?
Let’s learn all we need to know about the evil eye in this comprehensive article.
- What is the evil eye and its different types?
- Meaning of the evil eye according to its color
- What is the evil eye used for?
- Finding an authentic evil eye
- A few curiosities
What is the evil eye and its different types?
The evil eye is generally round in shape and blue in color with white and yellow circles, although there are versions of it with other colors.
The blue color is not accidental: in those areas, in fact, people with blue eyes are rare and are believed to bring bad luck; this is because most of the blue-eyed people who came in contact with the Turks were European and often did not stick to the local custom of not looking too openly at people and not complimenting them.
The Eye of Mashallah is instead depicted in the center of the hand of Fatima and, in addition to protecting from the evil eye, it is useful for warding off diseases and invoking the protection of God; moreover, especially in Morocco, it is hung at home to remove negative energies from the home.
Origins and historic traces
The evil eye dates back thousands of years; the roots of this belief reach as far as Babylon and ancient Egypt. It was also observed by the Sumerians and the Hittites.
The earliest written references to the evil eye are on clay tablets, dating from the third millennium BC. Exceptional quality agate beads, used to protect the wearer against the influence of the evil eye, were also discovered in royal Sumerian graves in Ur.
In Turkey and Greece, throughout the Central Asian republics, and all regions of Western Chinese Turkic, its effects are truly believed and genuinely feared.
Since ancient times, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean banks have believed that the powers of the blue eye protected the user from any type of misfortune.
Some sources say that the origin of the blue eye is due to the invasion of the Nordic peoples. The Nordics had blue eyes and upon arrival in the towns of Anatolia (currently occupied by the Asian part of Turkey) they were seen by its inhabitants as invaders who cast an evil eye on them, so the inhabitants created the blue eye to avoid it.
In Turkey, Greece, Central Asia, and all the way to the Turkish regions of western China, the effects of the evil eye are very much in mind: “it is believed to be truly fearsome.”
Throughout history, the evil eye has been believed to be a protective object, along with the horseshoe, garlic, wolf tooth, dry thorn, lead, and some stones. While these have all been used as amulets or protective objects, without a doubt the blue glass eye — the Turkish eye — has been the most popular.
The nazar boncugu (Turkish Eye) is an “eye”, often on a blue background. It is one of the most common elements of the decoration of any home in Turkey, we often find this symbol of the eye set in jewelry, in cars, hung on the doors of homes, in bags, or even on figures in the city. And always, they will be seen on the shirts of newborns.
So, as you might have noticed, there are data and archaeological evidence that the evil eye comes from ancient Mesopotamia or from ancient Egypt. In the different testimonies, it is suggested that certain people carried out curses on someone through their eyes. When this occurred, the victim “peeked”, or suffered a series of ills, both in illnesses and unfortunate situations.
The age-old belief in the evil eye remains today as a deep-rooted popular tradition. The Greek eye is not the only object that fights this evil, because the eye of Horus, objects of iron and silver, and all kinds of talismans can also be useful.
The evil eye is, on the other hand, a widespread belief in Judaism. In the Judaic tradition, it is not a superstition in the strict sense but it is related to the feeling of envy.
When someone believes that it is not fair for someone else to possess certain goods and luxuries, this idea is somehow transformed into an evil desire. Remember that the evil eye is specifically spoken of in the Torah, and the word malach is the term used to refer to it.
The symbolic meaning of the evil eye
Practically all civilizations and cultures, the eye is considered a talisman able to ward off evil. Not only that, but the eye is the window that opens onto the world, the starting point of both positive and negative thoughts.
Nowadays, in Turkey and Greece, this amulet of pre-Islamic origin is one of the best-selling souvenirs to tourists and is found in the form of stickers, pendants, keyrings, magnets, and objects to hang at home. Receiving one as a gift is considered a good omen, especially for those who have just purchased a new home or those who have opened a business.
Students also use the Eye of Allah, especially in the form of a pen, on the eve of important tests to ward off the evil eye and all the possible negative influences that can damage the result.
Is it Greek or Turkish?
As always, the story depends on who tells it. It is a tradition that covers the entire region, that’s why you will see it in both countries (and also in Cyprus). It is actually a legacy of the Ottoman Empire, that’s why it generates confusion.
An amulet against the “evil eye”
The belief in the evil eye and amulets is widespread both in Turkey and Greece, but in general all over the world. They are also popular in many other cultures, although amulets vary in features. Protecting oneself from adversity and bad luck seems to be a common, almost universal concern.
For this reason, in the history of all people’s jewelry, we find amulets and talismans of all kinds: blue eyes, crosses, corals, symbols, pentacles, and masks. The evil eye is widespread in Turkey and Greece, where its inhabitants have at least one at home, one in the car, and one worn as jewelry.
Anyone who has been to one of these countries can confirm it, as this amulet represents one of the most commercialized souvenirs, and is often given away for good luck.
What does it look like?
Traditionally, it consists of glass with concentric colors: blue (the outermost), white, blue, and black. It is usually found as an amulet to hang on the walls of the home but it is also easily found painted on beads of bracelets. In this symbol, an image appears in the form of a drop of water, and inside there is a dark blue dot representing an eye.
This amulet is normally presented as a crystal jewel that serves as an ornamental pendant. Its main function as an amulet is to protect the wearer from the evil eye. Its characteristic blue shades are attributed to the color of the seas.
Why it is an eye?
As you know, the eyes never lie. The famous saying “the eyes are the mirror of the soul” alludes to the ability of the eye to reflect the feelings, emotions, and sensations that pervade us.
The belief that the eye is the revealer of a person’s temperament is as widespread as the belief that the eye, as a “window that opens onto the world”, represents the exit point of thoughts, both positive and negative.
The latter especially manifested through the gaze, are considered capable of generating harmful effects on those who are the object of envy or aversion. To neutralize them, amulets have been used in the history of all human societies. The “evil eye” (malevolent eye) is the name given to bad luck thrown through the eyes of envied or detested people.
There are many amulets that contrast it, but the eye remains among the most popular.
Meaning of the evil eye according to its color
As I said, the evil eye is shaped like a drop of water; it is flat, and it is usually made by hand with colored crystals. It is formed by a series of concentric circles that are usually, from the inside out, black or dark blue, light blue, white, and dark blue.
However, the colors may vary depending on the intention with which the amulet is worn.
- Blue, associated with water, is the sign of good karma; it is linked to good energy and protection against the evil eye. The most common traditional evil eye is in this color!
- Light blue is linked to the color of the sky; it symbolizes the truth and offers direct protection against the evil eye.
- Red, related to blood and love, is the color of energy, power, and determination, as well as passion and desire.
- Yellow, the color of the sun, symbolizes strength and vitality; it is the color of health and physical vigor.
- Green is the color of nature; it symbolizes hope and personal growth.
- White is associated with light; it symbolizes goodness, innocence; it is the color of perfection, which cleanses and purifies negative energies and transforms them into positive ones.
- Violet is the color of the nobility; it symbolizes power and ambition and is also associated with qualities such as wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.
Characteristics and properties of the evil eye
This amulet is not only about protection, but it is also associated with abundance and prosperity. The presence of the eye also has an explanation: bad desires like envy are manifested in human vision.
Those who believe in its protective properties consider that the evil eye is also useful in attracting good fortune and fighting the feeling of envy.
In the esoteric tradition, this object is associated with the Sun. Like other esoteric objects, the evil eye helps to eliminate negative energies.
The protective power of the evil eye is widely used for children; in fact, no self-respecting Turkish parent would allow their child to spend time without this special amulet, which is attached to the diaper, stroller, clothes, apron, or anything else.
A popular variant: The Hand with the evil eye
In the Muslim tradition, there is the variant of the eye depicted in the center of the Hand of Fatima (or Hamsa). It is called the Eye of Mashallah and is an amulet against the evil eye that serves to invoke the protection of God.
In Morocco, people set up their own homes to ward off negativity and protect against disease. For all the populations of the ancient world, it was considered one of the most powerful symbols against the evil eye and bad luck. It takes various names depending on the place: nazar boncuk (Turkey), Eye of Allah (Greece), evil eye (English), Mauvais oeil (France), Böse Blick (Germany), Olho gordo (Portugal), Eye of Saint Lucia (Italy), Occhio di Shiva (India), Su Cocco (Sardinia).
Perhaps the idea of the protective eye dates back to the time of the Egyptians, where we find the Eye of Horus, the ancient Egyptian god with the head of a hawk. Despite the ancient origins, even today, the eye is present in more current forms, such as tattoos.
If you look closely at photos of celebrities, you will find that many of them wear it conspicuously on bracelets and necklaces.
What is the evil eye used for?
As I have already explained, the evil eye is an amulet that is also called a nazar, and which is usually built by hand with crystals of different colors, although the most predominant color is blue. The appearance of these crystals is similar to the feathers at the ends of a peacock’s tail, although the colors are different. It could be defined as a kind of flat drop, decorated by circles that in turn can house other circles of other sizes and different colors.
Formerly, it was used mainly as protection against the evil eye, that is, against the possible curses that were launched against a person. In this way, an attempt was made to combat these eye ailments that made it impossible for the victim to find work, love, or health.
In general, it is also often used to protect yourself from bad vibes, from people who want to harm us, and from all those external elements that try to break the family unit or disturb personal tranquility.
The way in which the Turkish eye achieves its mission is “distracting” the person’s gaze, that is, catching the gaze of the one who wants to harm us, preventing the evil eye from entering our eyes. If the evil eye deteriorates, it is often said that it is because it is fulfilling or has already fulfilled its objective and it will be necessary to replace it with another.
Why is it called the evil eye?
Obviously, it is named after its similar appearance to an eye. In Turkish culture, it is believed that all these bad vibrations come from the eyes of people, so with this amulet, those bad thoughts are captured and they are prevented from going outside.
Over the years, many people, especially in Western cultures, have also started using them for quite different purposes. It can be used as a complement or decoration product, without taking into account its properties as a protective amulet. This is not really surprising since, in addition to its properties, the evil eye or nazar is also a very nice amulet.
How to use the evil eye for protection
According to popular belief, the Turkish eye can help its owner protect himself against the so-called evil eye. But for the bead to fulfill its protective function, some preliminary steps must be followed:
- The Turkish eye should be cleaned with water and sea salt. Then it must be dried with a natural fiber cloth.
- The amulet must be energetically charged, for which it is recommended to leave it exposed during the night of a full moon.
Once this is done, the Turkish eye is ready to use. It can be used in a visible place (neck, wrists, ears), or it can be stored inside clothing or a bag for daily use. It can also be used at the entrance of a house or business, to prevent negative energy from visitors entering personal spaces.
If the Turkish eye is damaged, no attempt should be made to repair it. It must be replaced by a new one because it means that it has absorbed enough negative energy and has fulfilled its function.
Finding an authentic evil eye
Possibly, if the nazar has managed to last over time, it is not only due to its neutralizing power from bad influences but also due to its striking design. Today, they are sold to thousands of their own and strangers, some convinced of their powers and others attracted by their hypnotic gaze. It seems that after all, the nazar does its job of shifting eyes towards itself.
Now, like all successful products, knockoffs abound. The good thing is that this time, the original product is not expensive since the evil eye has been traditionally made by hand with very affordable products: glass, copper or zinc, and cobalt salts. Only very bad copies can be made of plastic.
In most tourist sites of Turkey, you can find trees full of Turkish Eyes. They are called wish trees and they have a lot to do with the custom of hanging strips of cloth with handwritten wishes on the Turkish holiday of Hidirellez.
Although most of them are now industrially made and can be found in almost all colors, there are still many artisans, especially in the Izmir region, who still make them in the old way.
The most authentic evil eye you can find is glass, an intense cobalt blue color, and possibly with quite a few bubbles inside, the result of artisanal manufacturing, and its shape is not completely round but rather resembles a drop.
Where can I buy one?
You can definitely find many evil eye amulets online but try to find a real, authentic evil eye; even better if it is manufactured in Turkey or Greece!
My story when I visited Turkey
I went to Turkey years ago at a very dark time of my life. My mom had just passed away and I really felt like bad energy was always around me. That trip came like a blessing. It was amazing and it gave me the chance to explore a culture so rich in history, beauty, and spiritualism. One day, my husband and I went to the eastern side of Istanbul to marvel at the Dead Sea and an old lady waved at me.
I was like, who? Me? She told me to get closer and told me something in Turkish and gave me an evil eye amulet.
She even refused the money I wanted to give to her! She just gave it to me and I still have it today.
I use it as a keychain to have it always with me when I am out as I want it to protect me from dangers and negativity.
That gesture was so sweet, and I really feel blessed for the chance to experience Turkish hospitality and have an authentic evil eye from that sweet lady.
Who knows what she wanted to tell me, but I like to think she said something like: This will protect you along the way!
What if the eye breaks?
During my searches, I discovered that the evil eye is used to exorcise and absorb all the negative thoughts that are “thrown at you”. Once it reaches the limit of its capacity, the eye breaks.
I bought a lot more of those evil eye amulets for me, my family, and my friends. But all my bracelets and necklace broke! Did these amulets protect me? I don’t know, but after this happened to me, I like to think so!
I have one … where do I put it?
The use of the Turkish eye will depend on what you want to protect. Many hang it at the entrances of houses to divert bad energy; others hang them in their businesses to take care of the economy, or on rings or pendants to deflect negative looks or where they feel it is necessary.
A few curiosities
- Islam (as well as Christianity) prohibits amulets because it believes that Allah protects them from all evil. But, wait. Turkey is a country with a Muslim majority, so how can that be? The reality is that, although 99% of Turks are Muslims, not all are practitioners or comply with religion to the letter, which is why they incorporate the use of amulets in their daily lives.
- Although there are different materials, the preferred one is glass, because when it is filled with bad energy, it breaks.
- Athletes who believe in this tradition often tattoo a Turkish eye on their skilled limb. Legs and arms protected by the nazar are common in Turkey.
- Much further east of Turkey, in Pakistan and in India, there is a superstition in which people and very dear things that can be envied or given excessive admiration must be protected by means of some defect to avoid that they are perfect. Thus, for example, a house includes a small defect in the facade and a newborn child is stained black or even spits on. This curious tradition is known as nazar battu.
- Like all superstitions, of course it depends on the beliefs of each one of us and what feels best for us.