Nazar (amulet)

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Nazars (charms against the evil eye) sold in a shop in Quincy Market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Note the various modifications to the simple traditional form, such as setting the nazar into butterflies or Christian imagery.

A nazar (from ArabicنَظَرArabic pronunciation: [naðˤar], word deriving from Arabic, meaning sight, surveillance, attention, and other related concepts) is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye. The term is also used in Azeri, Bengali, Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu and other languages.[1] In Turkey, it is known by the name nazar boncuğu (the latter word being a derivative of boncuk, "bead" in Turkic, and the former borrowed from Arabic), in Greece is known as mati (the evil eye). In Persian and Afghan folklore, it is called a cheshm nazar (Persian: چشم نظر‎) or nazar qurbāni (Persian: نظرقربانی‎).[2] In India and Pakistan, the Hindi-Urdu slogan Chashm-e-Baddoor is used to ward off the evil eye.[3] In the Indian subcontinent, the phrase "Nazar lag gai" is used to indicate that one has been affected by the evil eye.[4]

It is commonly believed that the evil eye can be given in the guise of a compliment, signifying its connection to the destructive power of envy (for one’s wealth, beauty ecc.). Amulets such as the Nazar are used in accordance with common sayings such as "an eye for an eye", where another eye can be used to protect the recipient of the malefic gaze.[5] The evil eye causes its victim to become unwell the next day, unless a protective phrase such as "With the will of God" ("MashAllah" in Arabic) is recited.[6] Among adherents of Hinduism and Islam in South Asia, when a mother observes that her child is being excessively complimented, it is common for them to attempt to neutralize the effects of the evil eye (nazar utarna) by "holding red chillies in one hand and circling the child's head a few times, then burning the chillies."[7][8]


A typical nazar is made of handmade glass featuring concentric circles or teardrop shapes in dark blue, white, light blue and black, occasionally with a yellow/gold edge.[9]

Eye bead[edit]

eye beads

The Turkish boncuk (sometimes called a göz boncuğu 'eye bead') is a glass bead characterized by a blue glass field with a blue or black dot superimposed on a white or yellow center. Historically old, the blue bead has gained importance as an item of popular culture in Modern Turkey. The bead probably originated in the Mediterranean and is associated with the development of glass making. Written documents and extant beads date as early as the 16th century BC. Glass beads were made and widely used throughout the ancient world: from Mesopotamia to Egypt, from Carthage and Phoenicia to Persia, and throughout the Roman imperial period.

The eye bead is a kind of glass art based on nazar in Turkey. This art has changed very little for thousands of years. The 3,000-year-old antique Mediterranean glass art lives in these eye bead furnaces with its every detail.

The roots of the very few glass evil eye bead masters that still practice this tradition go back to the Arabian artisans who settled in Izmir and its towns during the decline of the Ottoman Empire by the end of the 19th century. The glass art that had lost its glamour in Anatolia, combined with the eye sign, was enlivened. The masters who practised their arts at Araphan and Kemeraltı districts of Izmir were exiled due to the disturbance of the smoke from their furnace and risk of fire in the neighbourhood.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Khan, Abdul Jamil (2006). Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide: African Heritage, Mesopotamian Roots, Indian Culture & British Colonialism. Algora Publishing. p. 138. ISBN 9780875864389. Arabic verbs have generated an enormous number of words for Urdu/Hindi as well as Persian. ... The word nazar, meaning eye, or sight, is part of the cultural idiom -- <nazar lag jana>, meaning 'evil eye's effect,' and is used in the whole subcontinent.
  2. ^ M. Moin: A Persian Dictionary, 3rd edition, p. 4752 (in Persian).
  3. ^ South Asian Cinema, Volume 1, Issue 1. South Asian Cinema Foundation. 2001. p. 61.
  4. ^ Mehmet Kaan Kaya, Arun D Singh, Harminder S Dua (22 May 2009). "Nazar boncugu—blue glass Evil Eye bead". British Journal of Ophthalmology. 93 (707). Retrieved 13 May 2019. The phrases “Nazar lag gai” (affected by the Evil Eye) and “Nazar utarna” (removing the effects of Evil Eye) are common in Hindu culture.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Dundes, Alan (1992). The evil eye: a casebook. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-13334-6. OCLC 863469680.
  6. ^ Giger, Joyce Newman (29 January 2016). Transcultural Nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 351. ISBN 9780323400046.
  7. ^ Shankar, Vijay N. (20 August 2014). Shadow Boxing with the Gods. Leadstart Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 9789381836804.
  8. ^ Valsiner, Jaan (2 February 2000). Culture and Human Development. SAGE Publications. p. 182. ISBN 9780761956846. In Rajastan (India) the treatment of the 'evil eye' includes seven red chilis and some salt circled over the head of the sick child before these are thrown into the hearth.
  9. ^ Lonely Planet Middle East.Lonely Planet; 6 edition, 2009, p. 559.


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