Nazar boncuğu: The Turkish protection from Evil Eye

turkish evil eye

An introduction: What is the Nazar boncuğu

The rather confusing term is deviated from an Arabic origin, which meant Sight. The term “boncuğu” is a derivative of the word “boncuk” which means “beads”. In simplistic terms, it is nothing more than an accessory, a type of jewelry of a sort.  It is usually designed as a glass bead, or at times a locket, with a blue eye design. Apart from a fashion appeal, it has a rather magical effect. It is meant to protect the wearer from the Evil eye gaze, a malevolent magic that brings misfortune, bad luck and even injuries to whoever it is cast on.  

The Curse of the evil Eye

The evil eye curse is, as discussed earlier, a curse. If a person looks upon another with malevolent intent, it is said to leave a negative effect, a sort of a curse. This negative effect can cause bad luck, bringing about misfortunes and even injuries on whoever the curse is cast upon. Of course, there had been many cultures throughout history that have come up with different ways to deflect the evil eye curse. In turkey, the Nazar boncuğu is a way to deflect the effects of the evil eye curse. 

What is the Turkish Evil Eye? 

The Turkish Nazar boncuğu (according to Wikipedia), (or as sometimes it is called, the goz boncuğu which means “eye bead”) is a tear drop shaped glass amulet in dark blue. There is also white, black and light blue. Occasionally, there is the yellow or gold edge. It is often hung in doors of homes, offices, children’s clothing, in cars, and sometimes used to design different ornaments and jewelries. 

The image itself is a charm, and it deflects the foul magic of the evil eye on the one who wears it.  In Afghan and Persian folklore, it is known as cheshm Nazar. It is known in Hebrew culture as well, known as Ayin Nazar. The name is related to the term “ayin hara” meaning the Evil Eye. 

In these cultures, there is the belief that when and if a person is complimented too much, one can and will fall sick or come across misfortunes the next day if the evil eye has fallen on them. In south Asian culture, they have similar beliefs and if a mother sees that her child is complimented excessively, they make it a point to do everything in order to ward off evil eye. They do this by holding red chilies, circling the child’s head and burning the chilies after wards. 

This, it is believed, can neutralize the evil eye curse.  When such a curse is inflicted, one can deflect it by wearing an evil eye piece, or muttering out phrases that can null the effects of the foul curse.  The colors themselves most dominantly blue and light blue each hold a different meaning. 

The blue stands as the color of protection of the evil eye. The color, traditionally, indicates good karma, protection against evil and positive energies. The Light blue on the other hand indicates truth, which is believed to ultimately and directly provide protection from evil. 

It tradition of using a Nazar boncuğu for protection against evil eye was common for new born babies, businesses, for housewarmings and new cars as well. In simple words, if there was any occasion where good luck was involved, a Nazar boncuğu would be present to make sure it stayed.

 Throughout our history, man has always looked kindly at the use of magical objects like talismans to ward off the presence or effects of evil. Of course, there are different kinds of objects that serve the same purpose, and Nazar boncuğu is another one of those. 

The color is also significant in turkey, where water is a scarce and precious resource. The blue is a reminder of the life giving and refreshing presence of water. 

How is it used? 

As already established, the Turkish evil eye is used as a talisman, an amulet or even glass beads. While traditionally, people still use it as a protection against bad luck, it is common among tourists to use it as a souvenir, and a good luck charm too. In turkey, it is a well revered object, carried around or displayed in their home most of the time. 

The Nazar boncuğu is a popular master trade as well, and being able to make it is considered a work of art which is a tradition that has continued for over three thousand years. In Turkish society, it is a family passed craftsmanship, twisting and forming the shape of the glass and its colors.

The design can vary, and it is commonly a circular or a tear shaped jewelry, and it is the most popular souvenir you can find in Turkey. One can find it in small key rings, necklaces, bracelets and so on. Additionally, it can be used as decorative items as well, on trees, gardens and for personal items. Of course, it is also used as symbols and logos. It is also used as a symbol on the Flay Air airplane, a Private Turkish Airline. 

It is also used as a logo for the Videogame engine designed by Crytek known as CryEngine3. It is a gaming company founded by three brothers from Turkey. Traditionally the art of crafting glass beads of Nazar boncuğu has changed little among the many crafters in Turkey, and many of them continue that tradition to this day. 

Naturally if one happens to visit Turkey, the sight of the Nazar boncuğu is sure to meet them because the marketplace is always exclusively lit with them.

Where did the Turkish Evil Eye come from? 

Unlike most other charms, the Turkish evil Eye or the Nazar boncuğu does not come from any type of religious background. This also is one of the reasons as to why people adorn the amulet or bracelet as it does not signify any religious connection. The design is believed to originate from the Mediterranean and is also believed to be connected with glass making. 

It can be traced all the way back as early as the sixteenth century B.C, and the roots of this craftsmanship can be traced back all the  way to the early Arabian Artisans. They had settled in Izmir and other towns by the end of the nineteenth century as the decline of the Ottoman Empire began.