Most probably this is the most common thing that you can bring as a souvenir from Turkey. In English it is called “Evil eye protector” or “Evil Eye” and in Turkish Nazar boncuğu. The word “nazar” comes from Arabic language and it means “sight” or “seeing”.
Typical Nazar Boncuk is an eye-shaped amulet made of blue glass with inner circles made of white, light blue and dark blue glass. Sometimes yellow color is added. It has a form of a drop or shield. In modern times people invented different colors like green, red, pink which are used as decorative motif. Commercial art had a big influence on it and different colors of Nazar have been a subject of experimentation. You should remember that the real protection against evil forces will give you only the eye in original, blue color.
While being in Turkey you can notice blue eyes everywhere- in hotels, banks, restaurants, in means of transport, homes and stores. It can be a part of interior design or jewellery. The theme of blue eye will appear on towels, fabrics, furniture, dishes, key chains and will be hang on the trees as well.
The origin of Nazar is an ancient superstition about casting a bad spell or charm. To protect themselves against that eventuality people were wearing blue eye that was supposed to bounce bad attraction. According to tradition if the eye breaks it is a sign that it worked properly, protecting us from the evil eye, which we were not even aware of. This tradition has nothing to do with the Muslim religion, but is closer to the pre-Islamic folk beliefs. Even today it is difficult to find a Turkish infant or child who has not been “protected” by caring parents who pinned somewhere the small Nazar.
Nazar is also called as the eye of Fatima. According to legend, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, Fatima, sending her beloved for the road, gave him a blue piece of glass in the shape of the eye, which helped him to come back home safely. Since Islam does not approve of faith in amulets and charms, it is most likely a kind of reverence glass eye, traces its roots back to the pre-Islamic past of the Turks.
You can notice Nazar not only in Turkey but also in Albania, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria