Founder of the de­sign stu­dio Ku­bik, in Mar Mikhael, Beirut, designer Maria Ba­hous ex­plores the sym­bol­ism be­hind the tra­di­tion of the evil eye

Lebanon Traveler - - CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS -

In Le­banon, you can see evil eyes hang­ing in cars, on walls or doors, pinned on new­born ba­bies, or even worn as jew­elr y pieces. Though for some they could be just a beau­ti­ful ar tis­tic piece, to oth­ers they rep­re­sent a strong be­lief. Re­gard­less to which cat­e­gor y you be­long, the evil eye’s in­trin­sic mean­ing is un­de­ni­able and goes back to strong his­tor ical be­liefs still em­bed­ded in our cul­ture to­day. The evil eye, a type of mag­i­cal curse that long ago was used to jus­tify why bad things hap­pen to peo­ple, is thought to be the source of envy ( in Ara­bic, means the en­vi­ous eye). It is the “look” that some­one gives to a par tic­u­lar ob­ject or per­son that in­fects it with jeal­ousy, thus harm­ing it and caus­ing its mis­for tune. The evil eye is a bound­less be­lief in countr ies such as Turkey, Greece, Al­ba­nia, Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the Le­vant.


It is a wide­spread be­lief that peo­ple with blue eyes and a space be­tween their teeth envy the most, con­sciously or un­con­sciously. If you have such phys­i­cal traits, do not de­spair yet; con­sider the story be­hind it. It is thought that the roots of the evil eye started in an­cient Egypt; it was then passed on to Mediter­ranean cul­tures. In this re­gion bright colors are pretty rare and so peo­ple with blue eyes were con­sid­ered out­siders. If they stared at a new­born baby or a preg­nant woman to ac­claim and ad­mire their beauty they were con­sid­ered guilty if any mis­for­tune hap­pened to them. So, if you are su­per­sti­tious, don’t over-com­pli­ment, es­pe­cially if you have blue eyes.


Such su­per­sti­tions re­sulted in the cre­ation of tal­is­mans to turn away harm. Th­ese “good luck charms” and dec­o­ra­tions, when worn, car­ried or hung up in a home are sup­posed to de­flect evil and thus guard the be­holder and his/her pos­ses­sions against any mis­for­tune. Such charms come in dif fer­ent shapes and sizes but the most com­mon ones are:

Disks or balls, known as nazars (of Turk­ish ori­gin), with con­cen­tric blue and white cir­cles in the shape of an eye that re­flect the evil back to the on­looker. The hand, mean­ing “five” as a ref­er­ence to the fin­gers of a hand, also known as the hand of Fa­tima. It is a palmshaped amulet and some­times con­tains the shape of an eye in the mid­dle. If you have such an amulet and it cracks or breaks, this is a good sign. It has pro­tected you from a com­ing evil and you should re­place it with a new one.

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