Evil Eye Jewelry

Main Piece

Informant told a story about the Evil Eye within Arabic communities, involving a ritualistic wearing of an object (and phrase, within some communities).

“So the concept of the Evil Eye is that you have to wear it somewhere on your body, otherwise when people think bad thoughts about you it’ll come true, and then, like, the Evil Eye absorbs them all. And then, once it’s absorbed too much, it breaks…this is only in some Arabic cultures, but when someone goes ‘Oh my god, I really love your purse,’ they have to go ‘مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ’ (informant then translated phrase as “praise be to God”) after it, otherwise you have to give it to them – like, cause then the Evil Eye will get you. It’s kinda like a “oh my God, I love your earrings!” and now they’re jealous, so if you don’t give them the earrings or they say ‘مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ,’ their jealously will start ruining your life – like seep into you.”


Informant Interpretation: Informant heard about it from his Mom, who told him to wear it all the time for protection. “It wasn’t something I learned, it was just something I knew.” He still frequently wears Evil Eye jewelry as a method of protection for himself, and knows many others who do. He sees it as something more inherent to his family and society, and directly associated with paying attentions to others’ emotional states.

Personal Interpretation: This is an example of a folk belief or superstition involving a ritualistic object and many ritualistic tendencies, primarily practiced as a method of protection for oneself. I personally found its interaction with ‘magic’ to be the most interesting–the idea that someone else’s negative thought of you could seep into you feels like contagious magic to me, which wearing the folk object (Evil Eye) or repeating a ritualistic phrase can protect you from.


Informant is a 20 year old college student primarily raised in Birmingham, UK. He is male-presenting, Black, and of Sudanese descent, and speaks English and Arabic fluently.