Warding off the evil eye

Nazar: (Turkish: Evil eye)

Nazar boncuǵu: (Turkish: Evil eye amulet)

Wherever you find yourself in Turkey I guarantee that it won’t take you long to spot a nazar boncuǵu.  From planes, trains and cars to newborn babies and even amongst the herds making their way through the fields; it is never far away.  The ‘evil eye’ is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike.  It is believed that the evil eye amulet protects its wearer from the evil or ill wishing looks or feelings from other people.  Call it superstition but this good luck charm has been around in various forms some 4000 years since Mesopotamia and can still be found widely used in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African countries today.


It’s one of the great complexities of Turkish life I think, that in a country with 97.8% Muslim population the popularity of this amulet seems unshakable.  In Islam it is said that only God can provide protection from the evil eye (yep, even the book mentions the evil eye), no object or symbol can.  Yet it is still common to find evil eye amulets inscribed with ‘mașallah’ (literally, ‘God has willed it’.

Nazar motif in kilim with blue 'good luck;bead

Even on the kilims of Anatolian weavers can be found the ‘nazar’ motif.  In Peter Davies ‘Antique kilims of Anatolia’ he talks about the nazar motif being woven as a form of protection.  But interestingly, the weavers themselves do not see it as weaving a ‘symbol’ of protection but rather having woven actual protection for their families.

'Nazarlik' kilim motifs

I know a lot of people who don’t believe at all in these type of things but what can I say…a little bit of good luck couldn’t hurt anyone could it?

kilim #0039 with an all-over repeat pattern of the nazar.


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