What Does The Evil Eye Symbolize Around The World?

evil eye amulets

The evil eye has been part of numerous cultures around the world, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans almost 3,000 years ago. It’s easily recognizable and is also one of the strongest symbolic images in the world. Wearing an evil eye is said to ward off evil forces, which is probably why you’ve seen this famous symbol many times. But do you know the meaning and history behind this symbol? Here, we discuss everything you need to know about the evil eye, including why it’s had an influence in almost every country and religion, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hindu, and Buddhism. 

What Does The Evil Eye Mean?

In Greek culture, the evil eye is known as “mati” (μάτι) — a curse given to someone with a malicious glare that is said to give bad luck or loss to whoever receives it. You’ve probably heard of or seen someone giving you the “evil eye”, however, many people have come to believe this to be more than a saying. Hence the creation of evil eye jewelry and charms.

If someone is thinking or wishing negatively towards you, the evil eye will protect you from their ill intentions. This is why it’s important to wear an evil eye at all times. Having one of these accessories on your body will ward off any negative thoughts and will protect you all day.  

History & Meaning Of The Evil Eye

When and where did the evil eye originate?

The earliest record of belief in the evil eye goes back to ancient Greece and Rome, where the people believed that the evil eye was the greatest threat for anyone who has more money, fame, etc. than they deserve and those who are overly praised. 

An evil eye is said to cause physical and mental illness, and that any disease that doesn’t have an apparent cause was received from the evil eye. These people also believed that the gods and goddesses used the evil eye to punish those who are proud of their achievements, destroying their pride to bring them back to the level of mortals. 

evil eye symbol

What Is The Superstition About The Evil Eye?

The evil eye is one of the strongest symbolic images in the world, but despite the superstitions connected to them, the evil eye continues to be popular in various cultures. 

Something interesting about the evil eye is that it keeps the same meaning no matter the country or the story. Evil eyes have always been associated with wanting to inflict pain, harm, or wishing misfortune on others. Giving the evil eye is a clear indication that there is an intention to do something bad to the object or person of focus. This superstition behind the evil eye continues to persist in modern days, with some saying that just its malicious appearance is powerful enough to bring an actual disaster to those given an evil eye.  

What Is The Earliest Known Evidence Of The Belief In The Evil Eye?

Every continent shares the belief in the evil eye — in fact, people in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Central America all fear this symbol. According to Islamic culture, the Prophet Muhammad warned people of the evil eye in Book 26 of the Shahi Muslims, where it’s said that a bath must be taken to protect us from the influences of evil forces. 

The evil eye also carries a powerful superstition in India, where Hinduism preaches that our eyes are the most powerful part of the body. Because of this, there is a strong fear of the “evil” look from the eye and many believe that it holds a huge amount of power. This fear is so strong that Hindus believe that even an “admirable” eye can bring bad luck, which may result in a scarcity of milk supply in cows. This comes back to the original belief of undue praise, first found in the beliefs of ancient Greeks and Romans. To counteract the effects of the evil eye, Hindus would offer the “admiring” glancer a bowl of milk. 

Ashkenazi Jews, just like the Romans and Greeks, believe that excessive praise can be seen as a weakness in the eyes of evil. To prevent the effects of the evil eye, they will repeat the phrase “Keyn aynhoreh!” in Yiddish, which means “no evil eyes”. 

In Brazil, there is a similar superstition as the evil eye that locals call the “fat eye”. It is believed that sincere compliments aren’t going to cause the evil eye, but insincere compliments may give one a string of bad luck. 

In Europe, the myth of the evil eye originated with the idea that bad luck will befall those who are given a malicious or envious look. It is believed that witches were the biggest source of the evil eye, but those with rare eye colors were also seen as powerful beings that possessed the evil eye. An example of this superstition is how Germans feared those with red eyes, while in Ireland, an individual would be thought of as an evil eye sorcerer for having squinty eyes.  

While the fear of the evil eye didn’t pass on to America, it exists as a form of a metaphor. Furthermore, the evil eye is seen as impolite and serves as a warning that the person giving out the evil eye may be planning something bad. 

evil eye bracelet

In Different Languages, What Is The Term used To Refer To The Evil Eye? 

The term “evil eye” is spread throughout the world, and is known in many languages: 

  • mauvais œil in France
  • böser Blick in Germany
  • eayan alsharu in Arabic
  • char atchk in Armenian
  • aynore in Yiddish or ayin hara from Hebrew 
  • szemmelverés (eye beating) in Hungarian 
  • oko proroka (prophetic eyes) in Polish 
  • ondaögat in Swedish 
  • jettatura in Sicilian 
  • olho gordo (fat eyes) in Brazilian or olho mau in Portuguese
  • mal de ojo in Spanish 
  • droch shùil in Irish
  • mati in Greek

Different Evil Eye Colors

various evil eye colors

The evil eye’s most popular color is a deep blue, just like the Greek seas. However, this color and its classic interpretation have come to symbolize different meanings after many other colors were added over the years. Here are some of the most popular colors today along with what they represent. 

  • Orange evil eye: 
    • Used for protection and happiness
    • Inspires motivation and commitment
    • Increases playfulness and creativity
  • Dark blue evil eye: 
    • Calm and relaxation
    • Fate and karma protection  
    • Smooth flow of communication
  • Light blue evil eye:
    • Broadens your perspective
    • Offers general protection
    • Gives peace and solitude
  • Dark green evil eye: 
    • Brings balance in your life
    • Promotes happiness in life
    • Give you the freedom to chase new dreams 
  • Red evil eye: 
    • Gives more energy and enthusiasm 
    • Gives you courage
    • Protects you from fears and anxieties 
  • Brown evil eye: 
    • Connects you with nature
    • Protects you from the elements
    • Provides convention and order 
  • Purple evil eye: 
    • Removes obstacles in your path
    • Boosts your imagination
    • Acts to re-balance your life 
  • Gold or Yellow evil eye:
    • Provides relief from exhaustion 
    • Protects your health
    • Better concentration and sharpens the mind
  • Grey evil eye: 
    • Reduces the intensity of another color
    • Protects you from sorrow
    • Opens the mind to new situations 
  • Light green evil eye:
    • Promotes good health
    • Gives you contentment
    • Guides you towards success with your dreams
  • White evil eye: 
    • Clears clutter and obstacles
    • Gives focus and purity
    • Allows you to start fresh in life 
  • Pink evil eye: 
    • Provides relaxation and contentment
    • Protects your friendships
    • Gives you a calming feeling 

silver and gold hamsa

Evil Eye in Jewelry

The evil eye has become a very popular piece of jewelry, especially in recent years when celebrities such as Britney Spears, Madonna, and Nicole Richie (to name a few) have been snapped sporting red Kabbalah bracelets. Other A-listers such as Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Rihanna, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian have been spotted wearing the evil eye amulet, which increased the popularity of this iconic symbol. 

The significance of the evil eye varies largely through different cultures, but charms and decorations remain the single connecting factor across all beliefs. Eye-like symbols known as nazars have been used to repel the evil eye across countries like Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Southern Italy (Naples), and Afghanistan. Regardless of the area though, the evil eye uses a basic design with a blue background and an eye in the middle.

Whether you believe in the superstitions behind the evil eye or not, there’s no harm in wearing a charm that has been designed for your protection against misfortune and ill will. Here at Lexie Jordan Fine Jewelry, we offer a large collection of beautiful evil eye jewelry, from earrings and bracelets to necklaces and rings, all of which can protect you from the powers of the evil eye. 

Evil Eye And Hamsa

The Hamsa is an equally powerful charm that represents the same benefits as the evil eye and is one of the most powerful examples of evil eye amulets in Africa and the Middle East. Also known as the "Hand of Fatima", the Hamsa takes the shape of a hand with evil eyes at its palm. It can be used in jewelry or wallpaper to ward off the effects of an evil eye. The Hamsa can also be found in Jewish culture, where it was called "the hand of Miriam" or "the hand of God". In recent times, the popularity of the Kabbalah has rejuvenated and has taken into account how the Hamsa is designed for jewelry and accessories. 

evil eye hamsa

Evil Eye In Amulets And Talismans

Apart from evil eye jewelry, you can also use another way to escape the powers of the evil eye. In many cultures, the most popular method of preventing the consequences of an evil eye is through the use of evil eye talismans. These beautifully inscribed objects are used to reflect the power of the evil look. Another example of a talisman comes from the Middle East, where it uses the most basic design of the evil eye and is designed with blue and white circles made to symbolize the evil eye known as the Nazar (Here’s a necklace with this design). In Greece, the evil eye amulet was known as a reflective amulet, or an “apotropaic” amulet, which helped the wearer stay away from harm. Both talismans and amulets are often used on vehicles, houses, or jewelry throughout the world. 

Ways of Protection Against The Evil Eye

It's known that there are three types of evil eyes: First is the unconscious evil eye, which represents pain and harm inflicted accidentally and without intention. The second is the conscious evil eye, which is described as wanting to injure or cause harm willingly. The third is the invisible evil eye and is the most feared evil.

While the Greeks were known for their use of evil eye amulets, they also used to carry a cross or incense for protection against evil eyes. For example, a new mother will place items under the pillow, such as nails, gunpowder, bread, salt, rings, or a pair of silver buttons. Every object carries a significant characteristic and is a good deterrent against evil eyes. For example, nails represent strength, gunpowder symbolizes the ability to counter evil eyes, while salt is a symbol of power and preservation. 

The Modern Life Of The Evil Eye

To this day, the evil eye has a powerful influence on modern life, jewelry, design, and even pop culture. It’s so popular that everyone is familiar with the phrase "the evil eye", and you might even know someone who's cast it once or twice before. 

In Turkey, the evil eye has been deeply imprinted in their everyday life and holds an important part throughout the culture. The evil eye symbol is attached to anything that might attract envy, greed, or ill-will. Today, you'll find the evil eye in homes and offices, on currency, hanging from the necks of newborn children and farm animals, and even in the foundation of buildings in Turkey. 

evil eye in jars

Is The Evil Eye More Than a Myth?

Interestingly, the myth of the evil eye is very much alive today, even in our age of technology. It's no surprise though, because the idea of wealth, success, fame, fortune, and praise causing one's downfall can be seen in celebrity culture. At one point in time, Lindsay Lohan was at the peak of her career, as was Charlie Sheen. Yet, they’ve both fallen from their previous peaks.

If Lindsay or Charlie had an evil eye talisman or bracelet, would they have continuing success today? Whatever the answer is, there's no doubt that many believers would say yes. And there's no place better to get them than Lexie Jordan Fine Jewelry.