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3. Glass Evil Eye
4. Kurdish baby carrier, front
5. Kurdish baby carrier, back
6. Kurdish baby carrier, front detail

Part 2

The Ubiquitous "Blue Bead"

Perhaps the most ubiquitous nazarlik is the blue "evil eye" bead (Pic. 3).

Even the most westernized Turks may have a small blue bead pinned under their suit collar (This is especially true of small children), and most still carry their tasbih or prayer beads (for prayer and good luck). Even a "modern" Turkish mother will pin a blue bead on her child's clothing. Just in case.

(Ed. I have seen a blue "evil eye" bead on the bumper of a BMW in Istanbul. Some folks define their "children" variously.)

Part 3

Color as Nazarlik

Why "blue?" one might ask.

"Well," Saul said, "the color blue not only represents the sky, which is closest to god, it is also the color of the peacock, which to the Yezdis is the creature favored by God's favorite angel - Shaitan." Yet another explanation is that when the dye indigo was introduced, people were in awe of the fact that it was yellow, as it came out of the dye pot, but then instantly, astoundingly, turned blue. Despite the fact that this phenomena is natural, and merely the result of the dye stuff being exposed to the air's oxygen, it was so awe-inspiring to ordinary people that the color blue assumed magical properties for many. It should also be noted that the usage of blue beads goes back many thousands of years. For pictorial examples, see The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

Many of the pieces that Saul had brought featured very bright, even garish colors.

My own previous assumption has been that women in many traditional societies simply favor the brightest colors they can produce or find, and that may still be true to an extent, but Saul provided an alternative explanation.

He said that, for example, Kurdish belief holds that evil does not like pink, orange and other bright colors. Often one can observe Kurdish homes and doorways painted these very bright colors, as are their long-distance trucks.

Saul said that Kurdish weavings usually feature some pinks and oranges - sometimes the fringe is brightly dyed (this doubles the protective effect because fringe moves and, as we will see, below "evil" is thought to have a short-attention span and can be distracted by both color and movement).

This belief may explain why the baby carrier (Pics 4, 5 & 6) that Saul had brought seems to have a body and back done in naturally dyed colors. Whereas the fringe is almost electric.

What may be driving this use of bright colors is not just the liking of them, but the desire to protect the baby! (Note the long goat hair fringe, which will, when in motion, creates a distraction away from the baby itself.)

Part 4: Movement as Nazarlik
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