The word nazar (evil eye) derives from Arabic, meaning literally “look” or “glance.” Of course, no culture believes that all eye contact is evil. The harmful power comes from emotions such as envy or greed, meaning that its victims are people who own something precious: a child, a happy relationship, wealth, fame, or healthy crops and animals. The Evil Eye fixes on these fortunate things and – exactly how is not explained – causes them to fall into illness, failure, and conflict.
When faced with this magical power, it is natural that people found a magical solution. Any visitor to Turkey will have seen the blue eye symbol on plates, pottery, jewelry, and glass. Although foreigners often call this symbol “the Evil Eye,” these are in fact made to protect you against the Evil Eye. This works on the principle of similia similibus or “like influences like” – many cultures believe that a symbol in the same shape as an evil force can deflect the evil away, much like the best antidotes to snake poison are often made from the poison itself.