When brainstorming for new collection designs, some days it's more than just cute graphics and fun colors for me. I love learning new things and as a designer, I’ve always had a particular interest in symbolism throughout the world.
When I was planning this new collection, I started looking into the story behind the evil eye and the bright blue protective amulet I was familiar with. After my initial research I learned that belief in the evil eye spans many geographical areas around the globe and that got me thinking: Wouldn’t it be dope to create a print that incorporates various protective symbols from cultures from each corner of the world? How cool would it be to create a fabric that serves in itself as a protection amulet but more so, an educational tool to teach others about the history and meaning behind these symbols? So I kept on with my research and want to share that with all of you!
Since ancient times, people around the world have looked to the aid of symbols to keep them protected from all evils and ailments that could befall them. Some people used these symbols to keep them safe in battle, others resurrected statues to guard the entrances of sacred or important places and many hung these symbols in their home or around their neck to keep them and their families safe.
Many protection symbols are used as amulets to ward off the evil eye. Some say the evil eye is merely a superstition, but dozens of cultures around the globe have believed for centuries that one gaze from the evil eye can cast a curse, cause sickness, infertility, or bad luck to the unsuspecting person the look was bestowed upon.
For this print, we sought to encapsulate the rich history and cultural significance of protection symbols. Here you’ll find the name of each symbol, its geographical origin and a quick explanation of each.
Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Iran
The Nazar Boncuk comes from Arabic language meaning “pearl of the look.” It’s an ancient talisman crafted from bright blue glass and although is most widely used in Turkey, has spread across the Middle East and around the world as a symbol of protection from the forces of the evil eye.
The Eye of Horus
Horus is an ancient Egyptian god of kinship and the sky. The Eye of Horus, also known as Wadjet, was widely used as a symbol of protection. Pharaohs were often entombed with Wadjet amulets to protect them in the afterlife and ward off evil forces.
The Hamsa, or hand of the goddess, dates back to Ancient Mesopotamia, where it served as a depiction of the right hand of the Inanna, the goddess of love, war, and justice. The palm shaped amulet has been used throughout Middle Eastern societies as a symbol of protection to ward off the evil eye. The hamsa is also prominent amongst Jewish people as well.
The Cornicello, also commonly known as the horn, is a popular Italian talisman to protect against bad luck or the evil eye. The use of the symbol began throughout the Mediterranean region around 3500 BC where the evil eye was also believed to do damage to pregnant or nursing women and men’s sperm. During this time the symbol was also used to promote fertility.
Native North America
In many Native American tribes, the dreamcatcher is used to protect children from bad dreams and evil spirits. The practice originated amongst the Ojibwe people and the folklore of the Asibikaashi, or spider woman, who was the guardian of children. As the Ojibwe people began to spread, mothers would weave webs on willow hoops to help channel her protective forces.
The Akoko Nan is a Adinkra symbol shaped like a leg of a hen in reference to a proverb: “The hen treads on her chicks, but she does not kill them.” Designed by the Akan people during the early 1800s, this symbol represents both protective and corrective energies.
Celts (Western Europe)
The Celts, a number of central European tribes that are documented as early as 1200 B.C., often used a wide variety of stylized knot symbols to represent various ideas. The shield knot was a symbol of protection for all Celtic people, placed next to those who had fallen ill or painted on the shields of warriors in battle.
Asia: China, Japan, India and Korea
Historians are still torn on which country began using guardian lion statues, but the earliest documented use is third century India as temple art. During this era, the lion was the symbolic protector of Buddhist teachings but has since expanded in meaning to serve as protector of shrines, imperial gates and homes. Various countries and cultures in Asia have different names and visual interpretations of these mighty lion statues: Haetae in South Korea, Shishi or Xiechi in China and Komainu in Japan.
Cross of Caravaca
The Caracava de la Cruz originated in Spain to ward off evil intentions and enemies. The double crucifix has since spread as a symbol of religious devotion in Christianity, good luck in hoodoo (also known as a wishing cross) and often used within El Secreto de la Virtuosa Herradura, or “The Secret of the Virtuous Horseshoe” in Mexico.
Protection drops on Thursday, June 23 at noon PST!