Skip to content


Evil Eye Beads: The Ethiopian Charm Responsible For The Caste System

Have you ever given someone the "evil eye", perhaps in reference to evil eye beads? It seems to be a generic term in

modern society, used to describe a haughty or dirty look, shot at someone we favor with disregard or whom has committed some kind of societal faux pas. In Ethiopia, it is regarded the utmost social expression of distaste, or hatred toward another - in some areas even carrying notion as a "look of death", should it be directed from a spiritualist or chief.

The "Evil Eye" talisman is one said to connote protection from the "evil eye", and ultimately ward off any potentiality of being on the receiving end of said look. Turkish culture is most renowned for the creation and wearing of the "Evil Eye" amulet, however historical evidence suggested it began in Greece. Less discussed, is the relevance of the "Evil Eye" to Ethiopian culture, where to this day it continues to be responsible for a caste system.

Ethiopian folk religion refer to the superstition of the evil eye as "Bouda/ Buda". While general beliefs accept that anyone is capable of "Buda", it is most commonly associated with the Ethiopian Jews - whom also happen to fall into a lower caste system, since their primary employ is within the manual trade.

Manual workers are deemed to be of lower social caste since they were not born into aristocratic families, and tend to socialize with those of their own caste. Those with links to tribal royalty, spiritualists and scholars are considered to be of a higher caste, having earned their superiority within a former life. Obviously those forced into manual labor such as metalworking or building, are deemed to have committed sin in their past life - therefore are considered purveyors and carriers of evil. The caste system has also heaped a wealth of negative attributions to the lower classes, labeling them envious, malevolent and selfish. Such qualities are also considered the work of evil spirits, who some consider to still lurk within.

You may have noticed within our colorful diversity of Ethiopian Glass Beads, that a fair proportion feature the "eye" design, elaborately painted or carved upon them. This is, in fact because such beads were designed as amulets or "Kitab" - jewelry that will protect one from the evil, and effects of "Buda". As some Ethiopian tribes also believe foreigners to bear the evil "Buda", they wear the "Evil Eye" as a warning against establishing prolonged eye contact.

Whether you believe in the power of the "evil eye" as protection against the evil intent of another, there is no denying that Evil Eye Beads make a stunning addition to a wide variety of jewelry. Their recent return as an on-trend fashion statement, has further fueled their global appeal. Check out our fascinating variety of Evil Eye Beads here at The Bead Chest - for fashion or faith, they truly are exquisite!