Nazar Boncugu - The Blue Evil Eye in Turkey
Simple everyday saying such as “good luck” or “I wish”, refer to a higher power making our desires in life come true. Other older concepts such as Friday the 13th and crossing the path of a black cat may be scoffed at by the younger generations but are still believed by elders.
Anyway, I ask this question because last week, I met a couple on holiday in Turkey. It was their first time in the country, and they were road-tripping in Turkey around the Antalya region.
While speaking to them, it became obvious that during my time in Turkey, I had been “normalised.” Many questions they asked reflected their eagerness to know more about the country and they obviously listened and watched at every opportunity.
They picked up on quirky aspects about Turkey that I was now used to seeing so never gave them a second thought. One of those quirky aspects was the Blue Evil Eye, also known as Nazar Boncugu.
What is the Blue Evil Eye?A bright or dark-blue circle or oval shape with smaller circles in the middle to portray an eye, hence its name. Possibly the most popular souvenir sold, it comes in the forms of plates, necklaces, bracelets, hanging ornaments and key-rings. You name it. Anything that the evil eye can be featured on will be made.
As well as being a popular souvenir, it is still used by many Turks who place it in their cars, homes, offices or even wear it as a badge on their collars.
What is the meaning of the Blue Evil Eye?Don’t assume the blue evil eye is just a popular marketing concept. Its origins stretch back over a long historical timeline and strong beliefs exist regarding the blue evil eye in daily Turkish life. Also known as a talisman or amulet, the blue evil eye can be seen in Greece, and a few Middle East countries.
Turkish people believe the Blue Evil Eye absorbs bad energy, therefore protecting you. If the evil or curse is abolished or broken, the evil eye will crack, to signal the danger is over.
The bad energy mostly stems from other people. For example, a friend who is jealous at the announcement or your engagement, or a colleague who is upset because you earn more money than he does.
It is given at births, weddings, purchase of a new home in Turkey, car or start of a new business and some Turks take the concept seriously while others question the belief but still use the Nazar Boncugu anyway. They are probably hedging their bets!
As well as being seen in Turkey, it exists in other cultures and the first recorded use of it was founded on clay tablets dating back 5000 years to the era of ancient Mesopotamia.
Some articles I have read, suggest its origins date from Medusa’s evil eyes. After Peruses killed Medusa and chopped off her head full of snakes, he continued to show the head to enemies, who would inevitability look at it and turn to stone.
The Anatolian Blue Evil Eye CraftsmenMuch like any other trade, a certain area can become known as experts due to the high quality of craftsmanship. Known as Cesmi-i Bulbul, the art of crafting glass into blue evil eyes is particularly renowned in the Izmir region of Turkey, especially the Gorece and Kurudere villages. (This is an excellent video showing how the Blue evil eye is made by local craftsmen.)
Craftsmen sit in-front of a large burning furnace and using a large rod, soften the strength of the glass to mould it into the desired shape. Colours are added by using the oxide of various metals. Each craftsman has his own method and special colours, usually handed down through generations of his family.