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There's another amulet you'll see in the city that may not be as familiar, but is surprisingly widespread in the Muslim world. That would be a perennial shrubby herb called peganum harmala in science-speak, garmala [гармала] in Russian or adyraspan [адыраспан] in Kazakh. This plant is endowed with serious power throughout the former Persian empire, where its name is often something like aspand, espand, or esfand; adyr is an old word for "hill" in Kazakh, so adyraspan might simply mean "hill-variety aspand." In Muslim countries as far away as Morocco, people burn the dry shrub and whirl the smoke around children to protect them from the evil eye. You'll find this in Kazakhstan too, but people also use adyraspan to alastau [аластау], or fumigate, a room, cleansing the space of bad juju with smoke, and it's hung from the eaves of homes, keeping jyn-shaitan [жын-шайтан; "evil genies") off of the property. That's how, as a roving pedestrian, you'll come across this particular superstition. 

Keep an eye out for these lucky charms around town, but it's up to you whether you want to take pictures. I always felt a little suspicious documenting these talismans. Would it look like I was trying to snag some of the good vibes for myself? Is it my eye that's evil? I definitely don't fancy myself a genie. I'm just a guy with a camera, interested in the little things, often unspoken, of which everyday life is made. ​

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