A Tale in Red: No creo en brujas, pero que las hay, las hay

The amulet is an ornament or small piece of jewellery thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease, that’s the meaning of the word amulet. It’;s synonyms are lucky charm, char, talisman, fetish, mascot, totem, idol, juju, phylactery, archaicpriapt. Many amulets are related to religion or some kind of folkloric tale.

One of the most common of those beliefs is the ‘evil eyes’. The ’evil eye’ is a curse to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. It’s a legend present in many cultures where receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. The idea lead many cultures to persuade protective measures against the ‘evil eye’.

The ‘evil eyes’ appeared among many Mediterranean and Asian tribes and cultures. Charms and decoration with evil-eyes like symbols are known as nazaras and they are used to repeal the evil eyes being common across Portugal, Brazil, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, parts of North India, Palestine, Morocco, southern Spain, Italy, Malta, Romania, the Balkans, the Levant, Afghanistan, Syria, and Mexico, and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists.

People believing in the evil eyes dates back to the Classical Antiquity where Hesiod, Callimachus, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Heliodorus, Pliny the Elder, and Aulus Gellius referred to the evil eye in more than hundred works. On their works, they tried to explain and describe the function of the evil eyes. Plutarch tried a scientific explanation saying the eye was the source of the deadly rays coming from the deep recess of a person possessing the evil eyes. Pliny the Elder was wondered with the ability of certain African enchanters and their power fo fascination with the eyes, being able even to kill those who fix their gaze. can even kill

Virgil used the idea of the evil eyes in his poetry. In a conversation between shepherds Menalcas and Damoetas. In the passage, Menalcas is lamenting the poor health of his stock: “What eye is it that has fascinated my tender lambs?”.

However, the belief in the evil eye wasn’t the same in all corner of the Roman world, as it’s not the same in all corners of the Earth in our days. Belief in the evil eye is strongest in West Asia, Latin America, East and West Africa, Central America, South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe, especially the Mediterranean region; it has also spread to areas, including northern Europe, particularly in the Celtic regions, and the Americas, where it was brought by European colonists and West Asian immigrants.

Some Islamic doctrines based upon the statement of Prophet Muhammad, “The influence of an evil eye is a fact…” believe in the evil eyes, having some common practices to warding off the evil eye. To express appreciation for something, a child beauty for example, rather than say ‘beautiful’ they say Masha’Allah, that is, “God has willed it”, or invoking God’s blessings upon the object or person that is being admired.

In Turkey and Greece and other areas where light-coloured eyes are relatively rare, people with blue or green eyes are thought to bestow the curse, intentionally or unintentionally. In these countries, you can find amulets against the evil eyes in the form of blue eyes.

The first time I saw the amulets was on my first visit in Istanbul, They are present in many shoppings and stalls on the streets, but only living there I could see how the ‘evil eyes’. Is present on the culture. Most of the families I visited had some amulet on their home. You can see the Nazar bozcuğun made of glass in o concentric circles, ranging from dark blue or black, light blue, white and black that occasionally bordered in yellow or golden. Or plastic in bracelets or keychains. You can find them in the elegant jewellery paying thousand of years for a ring, or in the Gran Bazar for 5r years.

I bought one in 2010 when I visited the Princes Islands. In 2011 the tour guide gave me a bracelet full of evil eyes. I was also gifted with one while visiting a mosque in Edirne by a man who just put it on my pocket without I notice.

The tour guide and I had many discussions about believing in the evil eye. Took me some time to understand that superstition is strong in religious people and sometimes you only can listen to and try to understand. It was impossible while talking about the ‘evil eye’ don’t remember my grandmother quote: “No creo en brujas, pero que las hay, las hay” (I don’t believe in witches, but they exist, they do – in a free translation).

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