There are more than 42 names for the evil eye. Claiming it exclusively to your culture is well, to put it mildly, just plain wrong.
The concept of good luck and protecting yourself and your loved ones from an evil eye is basically found all over the world.
That is like saying you can’t make pizza if you’re not Italian, or eat chicken soup if you’re not Jewish. Constant migration throughout the centuries causes people to move and relocate. They bring with them their food, language, culture and superstitions.
And when someone lashes out at a brand, ok mine, and criticizes me for selling evil eyes, I can get a little upset.
Let me confess, but without getting too sidetracked that comment-reading on social media is a favorite pastime for me, it’s pure entertainment. Except of course, when it’s directed at me.
Since there are three kinds of evil, the first of which is the unconscious evil eye that is meant to harm people and things, without intending to, I will not be sharing a screenshot of the post.
That would be petty, evil in a sense, so best to paraphrase:
“How can you sell evil eyes when you’re not Greek?”
“You can’t even pronounce Hamsa correctly, why are you selling these?”
Um...ok (a hamsa is another amulet to push back ill-intent and usher in all the good things in life)
And the list goes on.
Which led me to thinking about the origins of an evil eye and all sorts of amulets. Do they only work on, well let’s say, “someone” of a particular heritage or nationality?
I am old enough to remember going to school and wearing green on St. Patricks’ Day and full heartedly believing in the luck of the four leaf clover and the leprechauns. We’d pinch the heck out of someone who wasn’t wearing green on March 17th! I am not Irish, but who cared? It was a fantastic day that united everyone and celebrated those with Irish ancestors.
And I wear the evil eye, I have it hanging in my home, design and sell it as jewelry, and embrace it fully. I am not Greek, I am not Middle Eastern, not Turkish, nor am I from Latin America.
And guess what? Not a single one of these countries can claim the “evil eye” as solely theirs.
In fact here are 42 countries that believe in the evil eye.
(Here is where you can insert-- "OMG I didn’t know that!" Then use this knowledge to impress your friends)
- In Albanian it is known as "syri i keq" or as "syni keq" or "mësysh"
- In Arabic, ʿayn al-ḥasūd, عين الحسود,ʿAyn ḥārrah (عين حارّة)
- In Moroccan Arabic it is called khamsa, khmissa or Khomsa
- In Armenian, char atchk (չար աչքն), "atchkov tal".
- In Azerbaijani, "Göz dəyməsi"
- In Chinese it is called 邪惡之眼 (Traditional Chinese characters) / 邪恶之眼 (Simplified Chinese 邪眼.
- In Corsican "l'Ochju"
- In Dutch "het boze oog"
- In English “evil eye”
- In Esperanto, "malica okulo"
- In Finnish, "paha silmä"
- In French, "le mauvais Œil" (The bad eye)
- In Galician, it is called "meigallo",
- In German, it is called "böser Blick"
- In Greek, to matiasma (μάτιασμα) or mati (μάτι)
- In Hebrew, ʿáyin hā-ráʿ עַיִן הָרַע,
- In Hindi and other languages of South Asia, (Hindi: nazar (नज़र); nazar lagna (नज़र लगना))
- In Urdu, another variant of Hindustani, nazar (نظر)"Chashm-é bad"( چشمِ بد); nazar lagna
- In Hungarian, gonosz szem or szemmelverés
- In Irish, drochshúil
- In Italian, malocchio
- In Japanese "邪視" ("jashi").
- In Ke/Tz Luo, "Sihoho/Juog wang'".
- In Kurdish, "Çav pîs/Chaw pis/ چاو پیس"
- In Lithuanian "pikta akis",
- In Malayalam kannu veykkuka
- In Maltese it is known as "l-għajn".
- In Neapolitan "'o mma'uocchje"
- In Persian it is known as "چشم زخم" or "چشم شور" "Cheshmeh Hasood", "Cheshme Nazar".
- In Polish "złe oko" or "złe spojrzenie".
- In Portuguese "mau olhado", ou "olho gordo"
- In Romanian, "deochi"
- In Russian, "дурной глаз" (durnoy glaz) "сглаз" (sglaz)
- In Sanskrit "drishti dosha" (दृष्टि दोष)
- In Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin), it is called Urokljivo oko
- In Slovak, "z očí"
- In Spanish "mal de ojo" or "ojitos"
- In Somali, "il", or "ilaaco" or "sihir"
- In Sinhala "ඇස්වහ" (æsvaha).
- In Spanish, mal de ojo
- In Berber languages(Tamazight/Tamaziɣt/ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ/ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ)
- In Tamil, "கண் படுதல்" (kan padudhal)
It is true that the concept of an eye, an evil eye, is not universal, it is however cross-cultural. Meaning it has “moved” across many cultures but not across the entire world. 36% of the 186 cultures among the entire world believe in the powers of an evil eye, mostly those of Indo-European and Semitic nations.
It is believed, according to Alan Dundes, professor of University of Berkeley, that “the belief probably developed in the old world, particularly in India, the Near East and Europe.”
Even more interesting, whereas the evil eye was once non-existent in aboriginal Australia, Oceania, North and South America, and sub-Saharan African its appearance began with the Islamic influence. Then, it migrated in Latin America with the Spanish and Portugese as they ventured to the Americas. And alas, made its way to North America.
So, as you can see the evil eye has roots in many places.
And just as humans migrate, so does tradition. So, the next time you want to hang an evil eye in your tree, above your front door, in your home, kitchen, bedroom, meditiation room or in your office-- DO IT!
Interested in learning how to empower an amulet like an evil eye? It's actually very simple, read about how to charge an amulet and make it lucky here.
Is there a name missing or a language/culture missing? Let us know in the comments and please share your family tradition with the evil eye. We read every comment.
What is a hamsa hand amulet?
Most commonly, it is just known as a hamsa or spelled as chamsa, even khamsa.
There are many interpretations of these particular usages.
The hand is often depicted with an eye in the center of its open palm, presumably to ward off negative energies, including the gaze of envy.