"it was a charm or guard against the evil eye"
Evil Eye Amulets
GNU Free Documentation LicenseEvil Eye Amulets - Credit: FocalPoint/Wikimedia Commons

The evil eye (or ‘Mal de ojo’) is a look that can cause bad luck or harm. It can be a deliberate stare intended to bring injury on another, or simply the detrimental consequence of an envious look or ill thought.

 

Turkish plane with protective ward against the Evil Eye
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTurkish plane with protective ward against the Evil Eye - Credit: FocalPoint/Wikimedia Commons

The evil eye is often thought to be particularly dangerous to children. Belief in the evil eye may have originated in ancient Egypt, and is common in Mediterranean countries, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Apotropaic (protective) symbols and talismans are used in many cultures to ward off the effects of the evil eye. These often take the form of a representation of an eye, with concentric blue and white circles.

 

Sign of the Horns
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSign of the Horns - Credit: Ra Boe/Wikimedia Commons

In European Christian countries, another way to ward off the evil eye is to make the sign of the cross, then point two fingers (the index and the little finger) towards the person, as described here. This gesture is also known as the ‘sign of the horns,’ and is a vulgar sign in some Mediterranean countries. It is also used by heavy metal and rock bands, by supporters of the University of Texas as a gesture of school spirit (Hook ‘Em Horns), and in baseball to indicate that there are two outs in the inning.