Warding Off The Evil Eye in Turkey

As soon as we arrived in Turkey, we fell under its gaze.

The blue eye of turkey was everywhere – cemented into sidewalks, hanging in taxis, stores, and restaurants. We saw people wearing them as jewelry.

blue eye of turkey

 

Istanbul_market_eye

 

Burhaniye_eye_bracelets

 

We were perplexed, and finally asked a shop owner in Istanbul of it’s significance. “To ward off evil,” she said.

A friend told us later that the nazar boncuğu more specifically absorbs or deflects evil energy that is born of envy. If someone looks at you with hateful thoughts or wishes for what you have, no worries, the eye will have your back.

Burhaniye_eye_railing

 

Eye_restaurant

 

Olive_oil_eye

 

Bodrum_eye_001

 

It is not a tradition that evolved from religion, but rather a superstition that has been around since very early times and has become a big part of the Turkish culture.

And everyone could use some extra protection from evil, no?

(To borrow a quote from Michael Scott – “I’m not SUPERstitious, but I am a LITTLEstitious…”)

Eye_Bracelet_2

 

43 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • Ha, that last quote cracks me up. We first encountered it while housesitting in London – our hosts had them all over the house, and it took us forever to figure out what they were. They’re not Turkish, but they are a little hippie. ;)
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Misty Sunrise at an Ancient Roman Cathedral

    • Pete
      April 7 2012

      We probably have come across them in our travels also but just didn’t think anything of them. Now we see them everywhere and will probably be more aware when we see them outside of Turkey. I’m assuming you were evil free when housesitting in London ;)

  • Cat
    April 6 2012

    I went crazy on just about everything with the eye, and now that I’m back in Spain, am happy To have seen it in the bar I had breakfast in!

    • Pete
      April 7 2012

      Cool! I said in an earlier comment that I’m sure we have come across it in our travels, but just did not know what it was or recognise it. I’m sure now it will jump out at us everywhere we go :) Gracias Cat :)

  • April 6 2012

    Very cool. I did not know this about Turkey at all!

    Major points for quoting Michael Scott though. ;)
    Amanda recently posted..The Horses of Iceland

    • Pete
      April 7 2012

      Yes! Points!! I’m sure it will not be the last time you see a Scott quote on this site ;)

  • Joy
    April 6 2012

    We got quite a few of the evil eyes on our vacation in Turkey. They are placed thoughout our home. Your post reminds me I am due to replace the one attached to my purse. Here’s a good link on its meaning. http://www.turkeyforyou.com/turkey_evil_eye_powers

    • Pete
      April 7 2012

      I hope you mean you brought home the eyes, or did you actually get evil eyes in Turkey? I’m guessing the first as the people here have been amazingly hospitable and kind :)

  • April 7 2012

    Reminds of Thailand and the use Buddhist amulets in various forms, they also ward off evil, protect little boys from the water ghost, protect mens personal parts, attract business and prosperity.

    Thais are very superstitious, just like you see the “blue eye” in Turkey, here in Thailand there is no escaping lucky charms and spirits.

    • Pete
      April 7 2012

      Thanks for the insight into the Thai ones. It’s so interesting to hear about the different superstitions around the world, this topic sounds like a great blog post ;)

      • April 8 2012

        Sure it would make an interesting blog topic Pete, if you want more insight just google “Thai Buddhist Amulets”, “palad khik” “sak yant”. Should find all the info you need.

  • April 7 2012

    Love all of these close-ups! I had a few eyes from my Turkey trip on my bag for more than a year, until they finally broke and fell off. :(

    • April 8 2012

      Sad! Now what will protect you?? :)

  • April 7 2012

    This is interesting indeed. Many such things are used in India too to ward off evil!! They are called nazarbattu!!
    Great shots.
    Arti recently posted..Yamuna River: Ghats of Mathura – Vishram Ghat

    • April 8 2012

      Very close in name, hey Arti! I’m sure there are these kinds of things all over the world, we just never knew about them here in Turkey before we came here.

  • Joy
    April 7 2012

    :-P of course I meant the former not latter. We found the same about the Turks. Turkey is on our visit again list. Home rennos first!

  • April 7 2012

    I have seen these blue eyes before, but never knew the meaning behind them. :) Turkey is a truly fascinating country…
    Laura recently posted..A Last Glimpse At This Year’s Las Fallas Festival & What It Meant To Us

  • April 7 2012

    I have one hanging in my house. I had never bought into the theory but then thought, while it can not hurt can it? Subconsciously buying into it but not realizing it :)

    • April 8 2012

      :) Well, I love the looks of them, and some are real works of art. If I had a house, I’d buy more into it too!

  • Vera Marie Badertscher
    April 7 2012

    You’ll see them around Greece, too. Probably brought in by the Turks, but don’t tell the Greeks that!
    Vera Marie Badertscher recently posted..Courage takes a seat in Montgomery

    • April 8 2012

      Haha! No kidding right! Don’t tell the Turks that baklava is Greek either… :)

  • April 8 2012

    Awww … I was given a pin for good luck … sadly, it fell off.

  • April 8 2012

    Great photos! I love your site theme of having the posts whole page width. *ponders a site wide redesign*
    Laurence recently posted..In Photos: Street Art of Angoulême (Part 1)

    • Pete
      April 9 2012

      Thanks Laurence. We are really happy that we went to a full width format for our posts. We wanted to have larger photos and figured in the posts this was the best way to go. IMO I’m a big fan and would recommend any site to go that way. Cheers!

  • Cam
    April 8 2012

    We’ve got one hanging on our rear view mirror in our car, and one haning in Baby B’s room!

    • Pete
      April 9 2012

      Cool! I think we may pick up a few for our packs. Can’t hurt right?

  • alfredandvincent
    April 9 2012

    Lovely pics and love the last quote! :)))

    Our Facebook followers would love this… sharing now…. :)

  • April 9 2012

    Oh man Michael Scott is the best. But your photos are amazing! Every place you go will always have traditions and superstitions as these but this one is not that creepy so that’s good! Great post.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Organic Hair & Skin Care On the Go with Intelligent Nutrients

  • April 10 2012

    I definitely have to get one of these someday :)

  • April 11 2012

    How interesting! I’ve seen them before but never really knew what they meant. Now, I kind of want one :)
    Sabrina recently posted..Weird Food Names and a Great Lunch in London

    • April 12 2012

      I have just the one…and I want more!

  • April 15 2012

    I love this. But I think I need an eye, because right now I am so envious of your travels in Turkey. Really enjoying following your journey, and taking notes for my own eminent trip.
    Jeff Dobbins recently posted..Springtime Comes to NYC

    • April 16 2012

      I think I may need to start taking orders for “eyes”…everyone wants one! :)

  • April 17 2012

    Absolutely beautiful photos. A waiter in a restaurant gave one to our little daughter in Turkey – she subsequently dropped and broke it. Fortunately I’m not even a littlesticious :)
    Natasha von Geldern recently posted..Australia snapshot: Rock climbing at Mt Arapiles

    • April 17 2012

      Good thing you are not littlesticious! I just think they are so pretty, I may need to buy myself some more!

  • April 17 2012

    So true, those evil eyes are *everywhere*. Case in point: I actually have one of the exact bracelets pictured in your photos. I think the whole idea is pretty cool.
    Wanderplex recently posted..Spend your travel money where you spend your time

  • Ali
    April 26 2012

    Despite their purpose to ward off evil, Andy and I found them to be a little creepy when there were a bunch in a store or something. 1 or 2, no big deal, but a whole shop full – Andy kept saying “we’re being watched!”
    Ali recently posted..Changing Plans on the Road

    • April 28 2012

      Haha, I felt that way sometimes too, especially at first when I knew NOTHING about them! They are pretty though!

  • April 30 2012

    Hi! I just started reading this blog and I LOVE it! I’m trying to start a blog myself. I love the meaning behind the eye! A family friend actually just returned from Turkey, when I talked to her before she left, I asked her to find me a bracelet. I will be receiving the bracelet in the mail soon! Happy and safe travels and thanks for being an inspirtation couple!

  • May 2 2012

    I will definitely be grabbing a few for myself and friends before I leave Turkey. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
    Kirsten recently posted..Carried Away on a Vespa in Rome

  • I love the humorous spin you gave on the “evil eye”! They really are everywhere.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..How We Quadrupled Our Blog Traffic In 6 Months

  • November 22 2012

    I am gifted a blue eye by one of my relatives. Can you suggest where(in which direction) to place the blue eye at home?

  • July 16 2013

    In Greece I was told that the blue eye of wisdom protects me against darkness.

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