The amount of literary and archaeological evidence attests to the belief in the evil eye in the eastern Mediterranean for more than a millennium starting with Hesiod, Callimachus, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Heliodorus, Pliny the Elder, and Aulus Gellius. Studying these written sources in order to write on the evil eye only gives a fragmented view of the subject whether it presents a folkloric, theological, classical or anthropological approach to the evil eye. While these different approaches tend to reference similar sources each presents a different yet similar usage of the evil eye, that the fear of the evil eye is based on the belief that certain people posses eyes whose glance has the power to injure or even kill and that it can be intentional or unintentional.
In some forms, it is the belief that some people can bestow a curse on victims by the malevolent gaze of their magical eye. The most common form, however, attributes the cause to envy, with the envious person casting the evil eye doing so unintentionally. Also the effects on victims vary. Some cultures report afflictions with bad luck; others believe the evil eye can cause disease, wasting away, and even death. In most cultures, the primary victims are thought to be babies and young children, because they are so often praised and commented upon by strangers or by childless women. The late UC Berkeley professor of folklore Alan Dundes has explored the beliefs of many cultures and found a commonality — that the evil caused by the gaze is specifically connected to symptoms of drying, desiccation, withering, and dehydration, that its cure is related to moistness, and that the immunity from the evil eye that fish have in some cultures is related to the fact that they are always wet. His essay "Wet and Dry: The Evil Eye" is a standard text on the subject.
Known as nazar, the evil eye talisman is particularly common in Turkey. Colourful beads, bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and all manner of decoration may be adorned by this particularly popular symbol, and it is possible to see it on almost anything, from babies, horses, doors to cars, cell phones and even airplanes. Disks or balls consisting of concentric blue and white circles (usually, from outside to inside, dark blue, white, light blue, black) representing evil eyes, the "nazar" is supposed to bend the malicious gaze back to the sorcerer.
So, next time you visit Turkey, make sure you pick up some of these for yourself, family, friends and loved ones - and protect them from those evil eyes!
UPDATE: Thanks for stumbling by! Please leave a comment and let us know what you think about this phenomenon.