Evil Eye Rings

Evil Eye Rings The Paranormal Museum
Found near Lancaster in the United Kingdom, this bronze Evil Eye amulet ring has been cleaned to reveal its original lustre. [PM2018.12] © Ethereal ProductionsThis ring displaying the Evil Eye would have been made to be worn by a child. Thought to be Roman, the precise date and provenance of this amulet is unknown. [PM2018.2] © Ethereal ProductionsThought to originate from Anglo-Saxon Britain, this bronze ring is an example of a composite amulet and displays multiple eye-like images. The use of two or more symbols were considered to make objects of power especially effective against the Evil Eye. [PM2018.1] © Ethereal Productions

Ideas and practices associated with the Evil Eye span the globe and have been around since Ancient times. Belief in the Evil Eye centers on the power of envy to inflict illness and misfortune, either on an object or person. The affected’s injury is sudden, and may manifest as illness, crop failure, the loss of livestock, financial hardship, or even death.

In order to protect oneself from the destructive power of the envious Evil Eye, various means of protection – known as apotropaic strategies and devices – have been deployed. One type of apotropaic device are amulets, which use the image of an eye to ward off and drive away the Evil Eye. The magical properties of such amulets are grounded in the Ancient concepts of simila similibus (like influences like) and sympathia et antipathia (sympathy and antipathy): the power to heal is inseparable from the power to destroy, meaning that the representation of an object gives power over that same object.

As amulets were considered to be more effective when in close proximity to the person who owns it, images of eyes adorned jewelry, finger rings, weapons and medallions. Some of the best examples of small, wearable Evil Eye amulets are finger rings.

Amulets were employed by persons in all levels of society, not only by the “simple” and “uneducated” of the lower class, but by one and all, elites and commoners alike. – Beware the Evil Eye, Volume II by John H. Elliott (2016).

Included within the museum’s Evil Eye ring collection are specimens dating from c.300 BC, originating from locations across Europe.

Anglo Saxon evil eye ring X motif

In addition to protection against the Evil Eye, the circle-and-dot motif on this Anglo-Saxon ring may have served a secondary function. The arrangement of the symbols is similar to the Anglo-Saxon rune, or fuþorc character, gyfu (ᚷ). Meaning “gift” or “generosity”, the arrangement of the eye-like symbols may indicate that this protective ring was given as a gift, to help protect someone who was experiencing difficulty.
A stanza from the 10th century Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem:
Generosity [ᚷ] brings credit and honor, which support one’s dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.

 

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Title: Evil eye rings
Date(s)/Culture(s): AD c.410 – c.899 (Early – Middle Anglo-Saxon Period – Britain)
                             date unknown (Roman)
                             c.300 – c.100 BC (Middle Iron Age – Britain)
Associated place(s): United Kingdom (find spot)
                                    Bosnia and Herzegovina (find spot)
                                    Lancaster, United Kingdom (find spot)
Material and technique: Bronze metalwork
Object type(s): Ring
Dimensions: 17mm (inner diameter) ; 2.4g (weight)
                          12mm (inner diameter) ; 2g (weight)
                          20mm (inner diameter)
No. of items: 3
Museum location: Online
Museum collection: Amulets & Talismans
Accession no.: PM2018.1
                             PM2018.2
                             PM2018.12