I often get dragged into conversations with fellow travelers and curious locals and the questions always turns to superstitions. I guess, being Indian, one is perceived as “superstitious” and expected to tell them why women tie turmeric-soaked thread around trees or leave a plateful of milk for wandering snakes highly unlikely to visit a high-rise apartment.
I have often wondered the same about the tribal in Papua New Guinea and questioned them about their obsession with human hair and thigh bones. Until I came to Turkey and acquainted myself with the Nazar Boncuğu, I had not given “superstitions” a thought – now I do.
In Turkey, “nazar” (evil eye) is a very common sight. You find them as beads, key chains, trinkets, door mats or just “nazar” hanging by a decorative thread just about anywhere. The strong, silent and business-like Turks will never be seen without one – be it hanging a nazar on their door, wearing a bracelet, in their car – this pretty blue trinket is pretty to look at and is believed to draw the attention away from the subject it is protecting. Let me explain.
The pretty Nazar Boncuğu hanging on a dry branch over the valley in Goreme.
I was told that, say, if I were wearing a nazar to protect myself and evil decided to wreck my life, the pretty blue thing would fool the evil by its sheer beauty and mislead it. Or lead it away from me – whichever way you choose to see it.
I have a collection of nazars too -something I always end up spending money on – not for any superstitious reason, but simply because I find them very pretty. I am not sure I attach so much of belief in the popular Turkish notion of evil, but I think anything as pretty as that can only be a good thing to have!