Sat Aug 14, 2010, 9:54 AM
The Mal de Ojo is common to Mediterranean influenced regions. This type of attack is believed by many cultures to cause injury or bad luck. It may simply be the unintentional direction of envy or dislike towards someone. It also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting a curse with a magical gaze. The effects depend on the culture, ranging from headaches to death. Often children and women are the typical afflicted 'targets'.
This amulet is much older than the Abrahamic derived religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity that use is today. It comes from pre-historical symbol complexes. There is some controversy over the first use of the eye in hand amulet. Some historians say the symbol was worn by the Phoenicians and was a symbol of the goddess Tanit. Others suggest that it may have originated in India, in honor of one of the Hindu religion's gods or goddesses. First recorded by the Mesopotamians about 5,000 years ago in cuneiform on clay tablets, the Evil Eye may actually have originated as early as the Upper Paleolithic age. The evil eye is a folk belief that the envy elicited by the good luck of fortunate people may result in their misfortune, whether it is envy of material possessions including livestock, or of beauty, health, or offspring. The perception of the nature of the phenomenon, its causes, and possible protective measures, varies between different cultures.
Although the Eye of Horus symbol is usually considered in a seperate context, it derives from the same very early symbol systems of the Mediterranean regions. This famed Egyptian symbol is still treated as a protective talisman along with divination and rebirth associations. However, the more common representation of a protective eye to ward against negativity is the Hamsa of Arabic and Jewish cultures. The first 2 photos below depict the oodles of Evil Eye amulets that can be found in Turkish markets.
Below are Jewish interpretations of the Hamsa, which also include the Star of David and lucky horseshoe symbols.
The eye or eye in hand symbol is usually worn as jewelry for protection. It may also be found in decorative arts, such as murals or plaques. These often are blue, a protective color in Mediterranean derived cultures, said to drives away negativity and evil spirits. Many Italian mal de ojo talismans were specifically blue eyed. Some go as far as to paint the front door on their house blue. Below is an example of Church doors.
I am most familiar with Italian and Greek evil eye amulets, my mother's heritage. Below are the type of things that would be hung near a door or in a bedroom. They combine other lucky symbols like the horseshoe, as well as Saints and the Madonna.
For personal protection, my grandmother wore a gold 'corno', a curved single horn which I've sometimes heard called a 'horno'. In Italy, red coral is considered especially protective and so the horn amulet is sometimes made with this material. It then looks like a chile pepper, giving rise to the misunderstanding of the corno being a 'holy protective pepper'... Another amulet worn by Italians for protection against the eye is the 'figa mana', the fig hand. I've seen it written 'fica mana' as well, probably a dialect difference. I'm Italian American, never been to Italy, so if anyone knows more enlighten me. I guess it was a hand motion to protect yourself where you'd make a fist with your thumb between your index and second finger.
I've been making Warding Wands using the blue eye in the hand symbol. They are crafted from vintage porcelain doll parts and either quartz crystal or amethyst. These are available in my Etsy shop:
Resources on the Evil Eye:
-The Evil Eye, a Case Study available at:
-The Evil Eye: An Account of an Ancient Superstition available at
-Death by Envy: the Evil Eye and Envy in the Christian Tradition available at
wow, beautiful, detailed and informative! really cool!
This is a rare case when "too much information" is a GOOD thing!! Very informative!
I tried to post all of this on the Occult Art group journal but only the text and links came out. The pics wouldn't show! Sorry.