This post is about the symbol used throughout Turkey, and much of the Middle East, to ward off the Evil Eye. It normally appears on jewellery, but can also be found on buildings and vehicles. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked up to see a baleful eye glaring down at me from the back of a huge truck, as it storms past.
Originally perhaps this was a matter of personal decoration. Last week, for example, we cycled past a tractor festooned with at least fifty different eyes. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo, which is shame, because it was beautiful day on a small coastal road between Sinop and Samsun. It reminded me of Pakistan, where truck drivers regularly decorate their trucks for good fortune, with spectacular results, as you can see below. The eyes that feature on Turkish trucks, by comparison, come painted on as part of the livery, as can be seem below. It’s not a personal decision, but one made by the company that sold the truck.
The vehicles themselves look fairly similar, but have no obvious name on them, so are presumably either sold or leased to individuals. The trucks that we have crossed seem to be hauling construction materials around Northern Turkey. The equipment and automotive leasing market in Turkey was worth two billiion euros in 2010, with expectation of further growth, according to a recent assessment of the market by KPMG (http://goo.gl/ORToa), stimulated by new legislation on leasing in 2012.
Obviously somebody has decided that the trucks will sell better when an element of luck is seen to be part of the bargain. You could contrast it with vehicle liveries in Europe and the United States, which emphasise unanimity, with clean lines and clear branding. The situation in Turkey seems to be different, with neither the depersonalised liveries of Hertz or Europcar, or the personalised truck art of Pakistan. Rather, it’s the absorption of folk tradition into corporate branding in a booming hire market. Is good fortune part of the bargain when buying or hiring a truck in Turkey?