From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
In ancient Rome, people believed that phallic charms and ornaments offered proof against the evil eye. Such a charm was called fascinum in Latin, from the verb fascinare (the origin of the English word "to fascinate"), "to cast a spell", such as that of the evil eye.
One such charm is the cornicello, which literally translates to "little horn". In modern Italian language, they are called Cornetti, with the same meaning. Sometimes referred to as the cornuto (horned) or the corno (horn), it is a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made from gold or silver. The type of horn they are intended to copy is not a curled-over sheep horn or goat horn but rather like the twisted horn of an African eland or something similar.
Some theorists endorse the idea that the ribald suggestions made by sexual symbols would distract the witch from the mental effort needed to successfully bestow the curse. Others hold that since the effect of the eye was to dry up liquids, the drying of the phallus (resulting in male impotence) would be averted by seeking refuge in the moist female genitals. Among the Romans and their cultural descendants in the Mediterranean nations, those who were not fortified with phallic charms had to make use of sexual gestures to avoid the eye. Such gestures include a fist with the index and little finger extended and a fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers, representing the phallus within the vagina. In addition to the phallic talismans, statues of hands in these gestures, or covered with magical symbols, were carried by the Romans as talismans. In Latin America, carvings of the fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers continue to be carried as good luck charms.
- Apotropaic magic
- Eye contact
- Eye of Horus — an Ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and power against evil.
- Eye of Providence — a symbol showing an eye surrounded by rays of light or a glory, and usually enclosed by a triangle.
- Motif of harmful sensation — sight that harms rather than the gaze that harms
- Eye of Sauron — a fictional eye from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Mirror armour which believed as protection not from only cold steel and arrows, but from evil eye too