Nazar battu

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A decorated truck in India, showing a black jutti and nazar battu motifs.

A Nazar battu (Hindustani: नज़र बट्टू or نظر بٹو) is an icon, charm bracelet, tattoo or other object or pattern used in North India and Pakistan to ward-off the evil eye (or nazar).[1]

Forms[edit]

A nazarbattu is often an intentional blemish or flaw that is introduced to prevent perfection. For instance, a black mark might be made on the face or neck of a loved one.[2] In houses, a deliberate flaw might be included in the otherwise-perfect physical appearance of the house. In expensive items such as carpets or saris, a deliberate coloring or stitching flaw is sometimes created.[3] Amulets - some resembling the Turkish nazar boncuğu and others which are threads, sometimes with a taveez attached (a small cylinder that contains a prayer verse) - are common in the region. Some nazar battu amulets are region specific, for instance silver-mounted leopard nails which are used in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh state.[4]

Although it doesn't involve a specific nazar battu, it is customary in the region for mothers to lightly spit at their children (usually ritualistically to the side of the children rather than directly at them) to imply a sense of disparagement and imperfection that protects them from nazar.[5] Children are also marked with a black spot on the cheek.[6] Excessive admiration, even from well-meaning people, is believed attract the evil eye, so this is believed to protect children from nazar that could be caused by their own mothers' "excessive" love of them.[5]

Satirical usage in popular culture[edit]

In North India and Pakistan, the term nazar battu can be used idiomatically in a satiric sense to allude to people or objects which are undesirable but must be tolerated. For instance, when it appeared that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf would insist on being accommodated institutionally as Pakistan made the transition to democracy with the 2008 general election, some press commentators alluded to him as the nazarbattu of Pakistan's democracy.[7]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stanley A. Wolpert, Encyclopedia of India, Volume 1, Charles Scribner & Sons, 2005, ISBN 9780684313498, "... One of the central paisleys is sometimes a different color from the rest, functioning as a nazarbattu to ward off the evil eye ..." 
  2. ^ Shibani Roy, The Dawoodi Bohras: an anthropological perspective, B.R. Publishing, 1984, "... away the evil eye a black mark was made at the side of his temples, as a 'nazar battu' ..." 
  3. ^ Rita Kapur Chishti, Martand Singh, Priya Ravish Mehra, Tushar Kumar, Nivedita Bannerji, Saris of India, Volume 2, Wiley Eastern, 1995, ISBN 9788122408300, "... Nazarbattu Intentional flaw to ward off evil eye ..." 
  4. ^ Omchand Handa, Textiles, costumes, and ornaments of the western Himalaya, Indus Publishing, 1998, ISBN 9788173870767, "... nail of a leopard is mounted in silver or gold and hung round the neck ... called nazar-battu in Chamba ..." 
  5. ^ a b John Abbott, Indian ritual and belief: the keys of power, Usha, 1984, "... A woman spits on a child to avert from it her own evil-eye ..." 
  6. ^ George Vensus A. (2008). Paths to The Divine: Ancient and Indian (Volume 12 of Indian philosophical studies). Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, USA. ISBN 1565182480. pp. 399.
  7. ^ ’آزادی جمہور کا آتا ہے زمانہ‘ / 'The era of freedom and democracy draws close', BBC, Feb 26, 2008, "... ریٹائرڈ جنرل پرویز مشرف کو بغیر نفع نقصان کی شراکت کے قبول کرنا ہوگا۔ اب نہیں معلوم کہ وہ جمہوریت کے ’نظربٹو‘ کے طور پر قبولے جائیں گے یا / retired general Pervez Musharraf will have to be accepted without diminishing him in any way. It is unknown if he will be accepted as the nazar battu of democracy or ..."