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Nazar Boncugu: Turkish Evil Eye Beads

Fear of the the evil eye dates back thousands of years. People believed the envious looks of others could cause them harm or illness. The belief is common to many cultures but it is particularly strong in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

So eye beads were created as talismans to ward off the bad luck. The distinctive bright blue eye beads of Turkey are called nazar boncugu (bonjouk). The eye is sometimes found on a palm forward hand shaped amulet called a hamsa of khamsa as if it acts as a stop sign to malicious envy.

These beads are so engrained in Turkish culture that it can even be found painted on the tails of the Turkish Airline planes.




An aircraft with Nazar boncuğu; the blue eye t...
An aircraft with Nazar boncuğu; the blue eye that protects from the evil eye. Sabiha airport, Istanbul Nederlands: Vliegtuig met het blauwe oog dat beschermt tegen het boze oog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tourists flock to the large Covered Bazaar in Istanbul to buy these evil eye beads from the many vendors there.

nazar - lucky eye
 Photo credit: Bunshee


Turkish people hang amulets on their car rear view mirrors, give away small evil beads as gifts and naturally wear them as pendants, necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Turkish silversmiths are very talented. You can see examples of their work incorporating the nazar boncugu beads on the Evileye store website.

The Turkish Director, Ali Akyuz has produced a documentary just on the nazar boncugu. On his website, he features the last of the evil eye bead masters in his homeland still making these glass beads in rudimentary pine wood fueled furnaces that have been used for thousands of years. These master craftsmen located near Izmir make the real evil eye beads.

Watch this short documentary by Don Wildman who traveled to Turkey to show how these are made by a modern artisan.  He had a go himself which proves it's not easy to produce perfect evil eye beads!



Photo Credit : Stina Baruh on Flickr

References
Wikipedia Evil Eye
The Evil Eye by Cat Yronwode

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2 comments:

  1. I have a gourgeous one from Lebanon that my parents gave me. I would have to say they work pretty well. It's been hanging in my bathroom for three years. Safest room in the house.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd be tempted to hang one in every room in the house!

    ReplyDelete

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