The ‘Magic’ Toy of Ancient Greece: Iynx

The ‘Magic’ Toy of Ancient Greece: Iynx

In this article we want to dive a bit deeper into one of our favorite toys, the Iynx which is pronounced, roughly, “yunx” … and from that, we get ‘‘jinx’’.

How the Iynx is depicted in antiquity?

In Greek mythology, the name Iynx is a deity of the Greek Pantheon, daughter of God Pan and the Nymph Echo. It is reported that Iynx gave Zeus to drink the magic potion of love, that of caused the unquenchable erotic desire for Io. Io was the priestess of Hera, his wife and for this reason, the jealous Hera transformed her into a stone statue of a bird of the same name, the wryneck.

Iynx (middle) in Greek mythology. From ” Antiquités Etrusques, Grecques Et Romaines: Tirées du Cabinet de M. Hamilton Envoyé Extraordinaire de S.M. Britannique en Cour de Naples, ” by Pierre Francois Hugues Hancarville (1766).

Throughout antiquity, the wryneck (sousourada in modern Greek) is a sacred bird of the Goddess Aphrodite. Since ancient times has been used by the witches of Aphrodite to tie the face of erotic desire with love bonds. According to Pindar, the goddess of love Aphrodite gifted it to Jason and recited some magic words that made him fall in love with Medea.


The iynx is therefore an instrument used in ‘magic’ ceremonies that moved rotatably to invite lovers. Witches in Ancient Greece tied the bird to a wheel and spun it. With the sound that made the spin – after all in ancient Greek the verb ‘iyzo’, means to scream, roar, yawn- they believed that they attracted their love partner, lured him, or enchanted him to obey, especially if it was an unfaithful love partner.

iynx toy in ancient greece made by attic black

Decorated Iynx toy made by ATTIC BLACK

The Iynx as a toy in antiquity

Nevertheless, the iynx prevailed like a child’s toy in antiquity. It was a wooden, metallic, or bone wheel (rhombus or star) with two holes where they passed a double thread and after turning it one pulled and one relaxed so that a sound came out reminiscent of the wryneck bird from which it took its name.

The iynx was one of the most interesting toys of antiquity, completely identified with erotic divination. The word iynx in everyday language meant anything that had the power to seduce or attract, such as the charm of speech and poetry, the charm of beauty and invocations. As there are several mythological elements related to the iynx with magic and it seems that on the disk or wheel they carved some erotic dedications or magical invocations that they sent to the person of interest. It is said that depending on the sound it produced, they could make different predictions.

Step into Attic Black’s world of ancient Greek toys and select the ones that are most suitable for you and your children. We have a broad selection of toys that were famous in antiquity, such as the iynx, knucklebones, rattles, spinning tops, dolls, and more.

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