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I'm starting a new thread on the naẓar amulet for protection against the Evil Eye. Now, the Evil Eye and the symbolism surrounding it is a widely acknowledged and historically relevant phenomenon across many cultures, so I'm just going to focus on the blue-eyed glass talismans.
Our journey starts in ancient #Mesopotamia, where 100s of votive figures were found in the excavation of the temple of Tell Brak. The most exclusive feature of these idols were their eyes. These amulets go back to 3300 BC and are the oldest eye amulets discovered.
The Evil Eye is a common term to refer to a specific curse being cast, intentional or unintentional, by the jealous looks of others towards the success of the one they envy. The ocular amulet is than in fact the charm meant to ward off the true Evil Eye.
In ancient Mesopotamia, as well as in ancient Greece (Plutarch) or Phoenicia, it was believed that the most adept at delivering the curse were blue-eyed people, likely ascribing magic properties to the blue color because of the genetic rarity in the Mediterranean area.
#Sumerian statues of priests and deities indeed had blue eyes. 1st pic: Statue of Ebih-Il (c.2400 BC) - Louvre, Paris. 2nd pic: Standing female worshiper (c. 2600–2500 BC) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 3rd pic: Head of a worshiper or deity (c.250 BC) - TEFAF Maastricht.
The 1st civilizations to use blue-eyed amulets to ward of the Evil Eye were the ancient #Egyptians and #Phoenicians. Several blue Eyes of Horus were found. 1: At the Louvre, c. 500–300 BC. 2: Several Eyes at the British Museum. 3: Blue Eye of Horus' pendant at the #Cairo Museum.
The ancient #Phoenicians started to put blue-eyed symbols on glass beads they strung together as necklaces (Metropolitan Museum of Art). In the eye for an eye state of mind, your blue eyes can't curse me if my blue eyes are looking at you. The naẓar (Arabic for sight) was born.
The blue evil eye beads underwent a widespread circulation in the region, being used by the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans. Their popularity directly depended upon improvements in glass production. Pic: Ancient #Roman blue eye glass bead c. 1st century AD.
Inhabitants of the #Ottoman Empire had a great fear of the Evil Eye, seeking refuge from the dark magic in all sorts of amulets and talismans. Book: "The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918" by Fanny Davis.
The glass bead and the naẓar amulet as we know it, knew a resurgence across the Empire, resulting in its use being popular in the post-Ottoman countries like #Greece, #Turkey and the #Balkan today. Book: "The Private World of Ottoman Women" by Godfrey Goodwin.
In Turkey, the naẓar amulet is known as nazar boncuğu, and is widely used and very popular. Pic 1: A naẓar symbol on a Fly Air airplane, Sabiha Gökçen Airport, #Istanbul. Pic 2: A naẓar eye on the hospital door of a newborn baby. Pic 3: A kebab store in #London.
In Greece, the evil eye is called μάτι (mati). The process of casting away the curse is called ξεμάτιασμα (xematiasma). Besides lots of amulets, prayers and talismans, mati is used to refer to the apotropaic visual device to ward off the Eye similar to the naẓar.
Some more Turkish restaurants and snack bars featuring the naẓar amulet. The amulet is really popular within the #Turkish community. I can't remember entering a Turkish kebab store without at least one naẓar pendant hanging around.
Just a disclaimer. The Evil Eye does exist within Islamic teaching. Talismans however, have no origin in #Islam. Islam frowns upon its use, and once again, we should differentiate between what Islam says and what Muslims do. I'm just saying this in case people mix up the two.
That should be c. 2250 BC off course :)
I wrote a rather comprehensive read on the Evil Eye and the naẓar amulet on my website. If you liked this thread, you're going to love this piece. It is said that the best way of protection from the Twitter Evil Eye is to retweet, like and follow 😇

With the risk of angering all blue-eyed people, I would like you to read the views of #Aristotle on blue eyes. It's an interesting read to understand ancient fears for the Evil Eye. From "Beware of blue eyes! A note on Hippocratic pangenesis" by Herman De Ley.
Noticed how #Greek trireme ships are depicted with (blue) eyes on their prow? This is very interesting. The eyes could have been painted on the ships as an apotropaic symbol for protection against misfortune. Pictured: The Olympias reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme.
Research on the possible function of the eyes on the ancient Greek ships. - "Seeing the Sea: Ships' Eyes in Classical Greece" by Deborah N. Carlson. "Conventional explanations typically conclude that the ship's eyes were either apotropaic or antropomorphic in nature,..."
Around Izmir - #Turkey, artisans make naẓar beads, where the art has been passed down through generations. One can find several workshops where the glass beads are produced in kilns, but cause of the modern surge in popularity, few amulets are still made in the traditional way.
An #Ottoman talismanic shirt decorated with several blue eyes and Seals of Solomon. Made probaby in the 17th/18th century. These shirts (tılsımlı gömlek in Turkish) were popular in the Empire between the 15th and 20th c. A whole collection can be found at the Topkapi Museum.
They are among the finest examples of Ottoman textile art, each highly decorated. Made out of #Italian silk, these shirts were worn by high-ranking civilians and sultans in battle or for protection against sickness and the evil eye. This is a whole new level of talismans.
Two 17th century miniatures of #Ottoman women showing some contemporary garb paintings and decorations. The majestic dresses are decorated with a colorful pattern of naẓar eyes.
A gold 8th c. BC #Assyrian queen's headdress decorated with bright blue agate and lapis lazuli eyes very similar to the #Mediterranean variants of the eye talismans, confirming my idea of this amulet being widely used across the region. Thx @MajaTatiana for uploading this!
A gold bracelet from the same series as the above headdress found in Nimrūd dating to the Neo-#Assyrian Empire. The inlaid stones form clear eyes, apotropaic amulets to keep away evil. Such artifacts prove that nothing actually changed during 3 millennia of superstition! Amazing!
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