Nazar Boncugu is a handcrafted glass of evil eye beads widely used in Turkey to ward off the evil eye. The beads are fashioned of glass molten in ovens and shaped with thin and thick iron tools to resemble an eye. The best of the evil eye beads are made by artisans following a longstanding tradition of glassmaking in the Middle East. Arabs brought the practice to Izmir on the Aegean coast in the 19th century and brought back the popularity of a practice that once flourished in Anatolia, the central high plain of modern Turkey. The smoke and fire hazards of the ovens forced glassmakers into smaller villages.

This thousand of years old talisman continues to fight against evil eyes all over the world.

These workshops fire the glass beads in very primitive surroundings, in underground kilns made of bricks and mud. The glassmakers remove the melted glass from the oven using an iron rod and then shape it on an anvil using other tools. Then, drops of molten glass in other colors (white yellow, and black over the blue) are placed on top of the main piece and stuck onto it. The whole piece is then rolled and then pressed flat with an iron. Finally, it is placed in a section of the kiln and allowed to cool.
evil eye bead or nazar boncuk old production technics in izmirTraditional evil eye bead making furnace
Glimmering Glass in Pine Wood FurnaceClassic Turkish Eye Beads or Nazar Boncugu
Documentary video about evil eye bead making in Turkey

Turkish evil eye beads are typically round and made of glass fashioned with blue and white concentric circles made to look like a wide-open eye. The color blue is believed to ward off bad luck which is why the blue front doors are common in the Greek Isles for example. And if a Nazar boncuğu ever cracks or shatters, this means it has just absorbed a rather powerful bit of the evil eye. It should be replaced immediately! The force of the evil eye (Nazar) is a widely accepted and feared element in Turkish and Greek daily life. So the idea is to protect yourself, your house, your office, and your loved ones. The Nazar amulet can be seen dangling from the bumpers of taxi cabs, pinned to the clothes of babies, built into the foundation of modern office buildings, and guarding the doorways of kebap house If you want to use it in your house you should hang it in the entrance of the house, so any visitor will see it. If you want to wear it, the most common one is a small amulet that can be hung on your cloth, or from your bag. Also, you will find bracelets, earrings, or necklaces in different forms and shapes to be used.

Nazar Boncuk - Blue Eye Bead
Nazar Boncuk - Blue Eye Bead

RASIM ALTMISKARA / Evil Eye Bead Master - The technique we use for nazar boncugu - evil eye bead making is primitive. It's handmade. We use a thick and thin iron rod. We roll the base of the Nazar bead on the thick rod. This is the base. We add the white and the blue of the eyes with the thin rod. Just these two rods are our tools. There is this yellow eye on our beads. We make the oxide of this yellow from a mixture of zinc, metal, and lead. I wonder if any chemist can make the same color. It's one of our secrets.

Prof.Dr. NUSRET KAYA / PsychiatristWe find the eye figure in the 5000-year-old ancient Egyptian culture. The symbol of Goddess Osiris is an eye...The subconscious system makes contact with the eyes. That is, the neurotic energy from the subconscious, powerful neurotic energy affects the subconscious of other people...And since excessive neuroticism is contagious energy, irritating, disturbing energy, it can cause sickness.

OSMAN SAGLAM / Evil Eye Bead Master When I was at the age of the primary school, my brothers were practicing this art. After school, I used to help them. Feeding the fire, bringing them whatever they need... I worked as an apprentice for 2 or 3 years. Then I started to make my own Nazar beads. And I continue...60 years ago there were 7 or 8 furnaces. Now there are only three. Young generations do not want to learn it...I do not know what will happen after we pass away. Nobody is learning this art. I'll have to give up very soon. I'm getting older. Both of my eyes had surgical operations. I have to give up. How long can I continue? Six months, a year, and then it will be over for me

Evil Eye Bead Seller in Turkey
Evil Eye Bead Merchant in Turkey

HAGOP CAN HULYAR / Goldsmith All I do is based on the evil eye beads. All my jewelry has nazar boncugu. I use different sizes of beads. I believe that evil eye beads are protective items and that's why I began to use them in my jewels. When the bead cracks, they say that "It cracked because it took over the evil that would harm you." It's what we believe.

Evil Eye Bead Amulet with Horseshoe
Evil Eye Bead Amulet with Horseshoe

MURAT KAYAN / Evil Eye Bead Master - It is also believed that people with colored eyes have the power of a so-called evil look. Some time ago a young lady with blue eyes came and wanted to buy a certain bead hanging over there. Even before I could touch the bead, it was broken into pieces. It even cut my hand. I couldn't forget it. Later the lady made a joke, saying "I guess I'd better leave before I cause more damage to you and your Nazar beads.

The blue evil eye bead amulets are in a creative collaboration with the other decorative arts in Istanbul. To decorate something, the first item you think of is the eye beads - nazar boncugu or their figure. Either the nazar beads decorate an object or they are decorated by some other objects. They can be assembled with a variety of designs and objects creating exciting combinations.


Handmade Turkish nazar evil eye beads in Turkey

Perhaps it is this very process that gives these glass talismans their powers: the incredible heat that melts the glass and the tremendous effort that goes into shaping them. Or perhaps it lies deeper, in the mysteries of nature that mankind is still unable to solve after thousands of years.

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