Clinical Topics — Buda

In Ethiopia the term buda (“evil eye”) is associated with craftsmen, especially endogenous iron workers.1-3 Those with buda are were-hyenas, and use their spirit aspect to attack victims at night by tearing at their innards, resulting in a progressive and lethal disease. Buda also includes the power to produce the same effects through a malevolent stare. The initial symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and torpor, and may develop into strange behavior associated with the hyena-like character of the buda. Because of the association with iron workers, women in some Ethiopian cultural groups carry metal objects at all times to protect from buda, and may wear place them in their hair.1 Ethiopian mothers also cover baby bottles to prevent the evil eye from striking their baby’s milk.1


1.) Hodes RM. Cross-cultural medicine and diverse health beliefs — Ethiopians abroad. West J Med 1997; 166:29-36.
2.) Young A. Internalizing and externalizing medical belief systems: An Ethiopian example. Soc Sci & Med 1976; 10:147-156.
3.) Aynä téla: The Shadow of the Eye, Healers and Traditional Medical Knowledge in Addis Ababa. 2009: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. Ege S, Harald A, Teferra B, Bekele S, eds. pp 337-348.