There are many cultures that believe receiving the evil eye will cause injury or misfortune. The curse is cast by a malevolent glare and given to a person when they are unaware. Talismans created to guard against the evil eye are also called “evil eyes”.
Some of the countries that pursue protective measures against the concern over the evil eye include:
- Southern Italy (Naples)
- United States (Hawaii-“stink eye”)
The evil eye belief dates back to Classical Antiquity and references to it are made by Plato, Diodorus, Hesiod and many others. Peter Walcot’s Envy and the Greeks listed more than one hundred works by authors who mention the evil eye. The evil eye was treated as a phenomenon from an inexplicable source and feared in certain areas of the Roman Empire more intently. There were locations where people felt more conscious of the dangers associated with the evil eye and some tribes believed that they, as a whole, possessed the powers of the evil eye. Pontus and Scythia, were believed to be transmitters of the evil eye. The phallic charm called fascinum in Latin for the verb fascinare, “to cast a spell” (the origin of the English word “fascinate”) was used against the evil eye. The belief of the evil eye spread towards the East as a result of the Empire of Alexander the Great which spread Greek ideas throughout his empire.
Where is the belief Strongest?
- West Africa
- Latin America
- East Africa
- Central America
- South Asia
- Mediterranean region
- Northern Europe-Celtic regions
In the Aegean Region where light-colored eyes are relatively rare, people with green eyes and especially blue eyes, are thought to bestow the curse, intentionally or unintentionally. In Greece and Turkey amulets against the evil eye take the form of blue eyes.
Evil eye, Isabat al-’ayn, is a common belief that individuals have the power to look at people, animals or objects to cause them harm. It is tradition among many Muslims that if a compliment is to be made one should say “Masha Allah”, God has willed it or, “Tabarakallas”, Blessings of God to ward off the evil eye.
Among those who do not take the evil eye literally, either by reason of the culture in which they were raised or because they simply do not believe in such things, the phrase, “to give someone the evil eye” usually means simply to glare at the person in anger or disgust.