When I was young, my mother would take a piece of fabric with the evil eye on it and place it into my soccer cleats just before I ran out onto the field to join my teammates. I never thought anything different about her placing a symbol of protection in my shoes. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood the significance of what it means to me, and for my heritage.
The evil eye has withstood centuries of interpretations and holds different names around the world. Across languages it is known as mauvais oeil in French, droch-shùil in Irish, böse blick in German, ayin hasad in Arabic, szemmelverés in Hungarian, ondaögat in Swedish, and nazar boncuk in Turkish. The symbol does not belong to any one culture, country, or even one family, but it holds a great significance for people groups and individuals in nearly every corner of the earth.
As a first-generation Turkish-American, I have learned to cherish the rich history my family carries with them and that includes sharing the evil eye as a symbol of protection. You might have seen the pictures of the Turkish markets, or even noticed nazars hanging in homes from people you know. It’s not only people that the evil eye protects, but it is also known to ward away bad energy from homes, local shops, workplaces, and even vehicles.
Instead of hanging dice on my mirror in the car or a tree-scented air freshener, I have an evil eye proudly swinging above my dash as I navigate traffic. Many Turkish people have these embedded into their everyday life as a positive symbol. One of the earliest findings of the evil eye dates back to 3,300 BC where amulets were excavated in one of the oldest cities to date in Mesopotamia.
While there is speculation as to the significance of these early amulets from Tall Brak, the evil eye continually pops up in history. Turkic tribes were known for their fascination with the evil eye and their affinifty for the color blue that directly connected to their sky deity, Tengri. On a scientific note, the advancement of glazed mud that came from Egypt and the development of glass also created the phenomenon and significance of this color. You might even notice that my brands use this bright blue color too!
In my Turkish heritage, the evil eye is more commonly recognized as a nazar charm. The charm is designed to keep you safe from harm, particularly if it is given as a gift from someone else. My mother has her garden lined with nazars standing guard against any malevolent eye or ill-gaze from a person, or even a storm that dares come close. They are the first guard against anything negative to happen to her garden. When the nazar cracks or breaks, it means they have done their duty in protection and can be replaced if needed. The charm serves as a calming presence across every part of my childhood home. It is the same symbol of heritage that my mother grew up with, just as it is a meaningful symbol that she has passed onto me.
When I look at the nazar bracelet my mother gave me, I am reminded that I am protected, that I am safe, and that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. So when you find the symbol on my inventions or in the extra gifts I pass along to you, know that it is a symbol of my gratitude in the form of protection. My wish is that your goals, ambitions, and inventive ideas are protected. Whatever you set your mind to, wherever your heritage is from, great things are possible when we each look after one another.
So the next time you order an invention from Emikeni, I hope you feel cared for and protected by products that make a meaningful difference in your life, as well as serve as a reminder that there is space for your ideas in this world. Your ideas are worth sharing, and protecting.
<3 Emily Kenison