MAY 2014
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Guest Column

Beauty of the EYE and The Trojan War!


Many of you liked my last column and asked for more so in the spirit of the recently concluded IIFA, I shall continue on the journey of beauty and eyes to answer your questions about history and evolution of beautiful eyes and perceptions that changes with times.

So, in our last column, we looked at how to enhance the beauty of the eye from cosmetic to surgery and prosthesis galore. We even talked about some secret eye enhancements that you could look for while watching the movie stars from Bollywood at IIFA.

In this column, we shall explore the history of how beauty of the eye has evolved over time.

Perfect eyes and their appearance besides color of your eyes were also predominantly rated based on shape. From almond-shaped eyes to the much-coveted slanting small eyes of the old Chinese dynasty, we have seen shape take predominance. Sparkling eyes set far apart, with whitened skin unmarred by freckles and tinted with a high and contrasting coloring, were regarded as the epitome of feminine loveliness in the Tudor period.

Plato’s golden proportions even described the nose length to be the size of inter-distance between two eyes and old Indian sculptures have depicted position of perfect face to have eyes located at the junction of the upper 1/3rd and lower 2/3rds of the face.

Besides physical attributes and natural anatomy, cosmetics have played a role since prehistoric times. Women unwittingly courted blindness too, in their quest for beauty. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Persians tried to make their eyes glitter by using drops of antimony sulfide. The drops often dried up the tear ducts, and evenly destroyed their vision. In the 16th and 17th centuries, women used eye drops made of belladonna (Beautiful Woman), also known as deadly nightshade to dilate their pupils. While it had the desired effect of making their eyes look dewy, interested and excited the drops also robbed them of the normal pupil-shrinking reflect that keeps bright light away from the delicate retina. Modern experts believe that by continually dilating their pupils, these women might have predisposed themselves to the potentially blinding condition of glaucoma

Ancient Egyptians wore cosmetics regardless of gender or status, as they believed that cosmetics had magical power. They paid extra attention to eye makeup and they usually lined their eyes with a black galena, kohl (black eyeliner) with a wooden stick, creating an almond-shaped eye. The almond-shaped eye resembles the falcon eye of the God Horus. The eye of Horus was believed by the Egyptians to have magical protective powers from the myth of the battle of Horus as revenge for his father Osiris, where it was said he lost his left eye which was later magically restored. Therefore, the ancient Egyptians wore the black kohl and used green eye paints (made from malachite a green carbonate of copper) under their eye to ward off evil spirits and as a way to keep their eyes protected from eye diseases. The use of eye paints played an important role as well in the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians.

Indians use “Surma” to highlight the eye and often enhance the shape.  

Accessories have also been around for centuries now, made from animal bones and teeth, raw metals and basically anything that could glitter.

If Cindy Crawford comes close these descriptions, Helen of Troy was renowned as the one with the most perfect physical attributes in the world. Perfect enough to start the Trojan War!

Where did you think Lakme, Maybeline and CoverGirl get their ideas from?

Arun C. Gulani, M.D., M.S., is director and chief surgeon of Gulani Vision Institute in Jacksonville. He can be reached at or visit


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