BLINDING THE EVIL EYE
Founder of the design studio Kubik, in Mar Mikhael, Beirut, designer Maria Bahous explores the symbolism behind the tradition of the evil eye
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.
DO YOU HAVE BLUE EYES?
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.
BEWARE OF THE EVIL EYE
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.