Wander around Fethiye or anywhere else in Turkey and you’re bound to feel you’re being watched by nazar boncuğu, blue glass beads of various shapes and sizes that look rather like eyes.
They look like eyes because that’s exactly what they are – eye-shaped beads – usually light or dark blue but occasionally yellow, which for thousands of years have been thought of as a charm that protects the owner from the evil eye.
But what is the evil eye and why are they still so popular, even in modern Turkish culture?
Being given the ‘evil’ eye
In many parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but also in many other parts of the world, there is a superstition that a person could, not necessarily deliberately, look at something another person has with envy or jealously and this could in someway cause the recipient of such negative feelings bad luck, misfortune or harm.
These bad vibes have to be deflected and this is where the talisman, known in Turkey as nazar boncuğu, comes into play.
A potted history of nazar boncuğu
Eyes of various kinds have been seen as a kind of protection against evil for thousands of years.
Ancient Egypt and Greece, to name but two but cultures as distant as Celtic and Indian also have an equivalent.
In Turkey, these glass beads, which in old Turkish is gökçe munçuk and means blue bead, are usually glass charms that are said to protect against a malevolent gaze and the harm that can come from it and are said to have initially become popular during Ottoman times.
Many Turkish people have these in their homes and also fasten one onto their children’s clothes with a tiny safety pin.
Nowadays, not only are they a popular amulet amongst Turkish people they are a must have souvenir for anyone coming to Turkey for a holiday.
At Fethiye Times, we think this is so distinctively Turkish and so much part of Turkish culture, we even have one in our logo.