Once upon a time, off the coast of Turkey, a gigantic rock sat in the middle of the ocean. Unable to budge it, the local villagers summoned a man who was known to possess the ‘evil eye.’ ‘My,’ he said. ‘What a big rock that is.’ And with a deafening crack, the rock split in two.
This Turkish legend has given rise to nazar boncuk – the ‘evil eye stone.’ Forged out of an amalgamation of water, salt, iron, copper and molten glass, this deep-blue stone is used to keep ‘the evil eye’ at bay. When some people fall sick – even today, in the 21st century – people say, ‘Nazar touched them.’
In Turkey, these stones are everywhere. In major cities, you will see them over the tellers at Citibank. Mothers attach them to the lapels of newborns. It is actually the color itself that it supposed to deflect evil: even in the absence of the stones, doorways will often be painted blue.
These stones have been made for three thousand years. One small shop south of Izmir, for example, sells thousands of them, and nothing but. This shop is also home to a small zoo, including an albino peacock that will peck inquisitively at your Achilles’ heel.