The human mind is always fascinated by the mystery of the unknown. Even a simple object’s value increases a thousand times when it is linked to a mysterious past or incident, or even a curse. We may not like to own such objects, but their story always manages to intrigue us. In this article, we have brought you the stories of ten such historical objects that are believed to be cursed.
1. Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond is said to have a cursed origin which brings misfortune and tragedy to people who own or wear it. But after the Smithsonian Museum acquired the diamond, the “curse appears to have gone dormant.”
The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous jewels in the world with ownership records dating back almost four centuries. This 45.52 carat diamond is believed to have originated in India. It is said that this diamond was originally embedded in the statue of the goddess Sita, the wife of the god Rama. The Hope Diamond formed one of her eyes in the idol. It was stolen, and the temple priest laid a curse on whoever might possess the missing stone.
This story has fuelled the belief that misfortune befalls those who own the diamond. The fall of Madame Athenais de Montespan during the reign of Louis XIV of France, the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the rape and mutilation of the Princesse de Lamballe during the French Revolution, and many other instances are linked with the misfortune brought by the Hope Diamond. Even jewelers who may have handled the Hope Diamond were said to be ruined by it. For instance, the insanity and suicide of Jacques Colot and the financial ruin of the jeweler Simon Frankel were linked to the stone.
The Hope Diamond is currently in the possession of Smithsonian Museum. But surprisingly, owning the diamond has brought “nothing but good luck” for the nonprofit, national museum.
2. Björketorp Runestone
The Björketorp Runestone in Sweden has a curse inscribed on it. According to the curse, anyone who breaks the monument will be plagued by maleficence and will be doomed.
The Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden, is part of a grave field. Standing tall at 4.2 meters in height, it is one of the world’s tallest runestones. It forms a stone circle with two solitary menhirs, also known as standing stone or orthostat. Among all three, only the Björketorp Runestone is inscribed. The inscription is on both sides. In one of the inscriptions, it says that anyone who breaks the structure will be doomed to an insidious death. Most scholars date the inscription to the 7th century. It has been suggested that the curse is intended to protect the runestone.
3. Maori Warrior Mask
According to Maori tradition, the warriors carve and paint masks before a battle, and it is said that if they die their spirits live on within the mask.
Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand. The warrior mask is an important part of their tradition. The masks are quite ornate looking with intricate details and are made by Maori people before going to war. According to Maori people, each mask has the spirit of its owner inside it.
Maori tradition dictates that a menstruating woman is tapu, or taboo, and so are the masks. So, if both of them comes in contact with each other, it would invoke a curse. Also, pregnant women are considered sacred. So, it is advised that pregnant women should be kept away from these masks so as to protect them. In 2010, New Zealand’s national museum even sparked an outrage when it told pregnant women to stay away from the museum tour of sacred Maori artifacts.
4. Terracotta Army of China
The curse of Terracotta Army of China emerged when three of the seven farmers who discovered the sculptures died painfully. The rest of the farmers and most of the village are facing financial ruin.
In 1974, a team of seven workers in Yang village were digging a well in their communal farm. While digging, one of the farmers, Zhifa, struck something about 15 meters down. At first, they saw the top of a head, and as they dug further, the whole head emerged. Thinking he had found a bronze relic and could sell it, Zhifa broke it off with a hammer. But when he brought it to the village, the villagers were afraid to touch it because they thought it was a temple statue.
As the word spread, officials and archaeologists poured into the village and began to excavate the tomb. Over the next few years, the land was claimed by the state. The farmers’ homes were demolished to make way for exhibition halls and gift shops. Among the seven workers who discovered the terracotta army, Wang Puzi hanged himself, and Yang Wenhai and Yang Yanxin died jobless and penniless. The destruction of the village, the misery of the villagers, and death of the three workers gave birth to the notion that the terracotta army is cursed.
5. Black Orlov
The black diamond, Black Orlov, is rumored to have been stolen from the statue of a Hindu god and is said to be cursed. Most of its owners have either died or committed suicide.
The Black Orlov, also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond, is a 67.50 carat diamond and is believed to bring misfortune to its owner. It is said to have been discovered in the early 19th century in India where it was featured as one of the eyes in a statue of the Hindu god Brahma. It was stolen by a monk and became cursed.
The first known death associated with this diamond was that of a diamond dealer, J.W. Paris. He brought the diamond to the United States in 1932 but soon committed suicide by jumping from a skyscraper in New York City. Later, two other owners, Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, leaped to their deaths in apparent suicides. In 2004, it was purchased by diamond dealer Dennis Petimezas. He once said: “I’ve spent the past year trying to discover everything I can about the stone’s melodramatic history, and I’m pretty confident that the curse is broken.”
In 1991, a 5,000-year-old man was discovered completely frozen in the European Alps. Since then, seven people associated with his discovery died in strange ways causing many to blame their deaths on the “Curse of the Iceman.”
In September of 1991, two German hikers were walking through the peaks of Italy’s Ötztal Alps. While enjoying the picturesque wilderness, they suddenly saw a frozen human corpse. The startled couple immediately notified the authorities as they thought it was the body of a lost mountain climber. The mysterious body was completely mummified in ice and was removed from the site on September 22. He was named Ötzi the Iceman.
But soon after his discovery, people linked to it started dying. The first death was that of a forensic pathologist, Rainer Henn, who was one of the earliest scientists who handled the Iceman. He died in a car crash on his way to give a lecture on some of his findings concerning the mummy. The next one was that of a mountain guide, Kurt Fritz, who was one of the first to uncover the mummified body. He was killed in an avalanche. Then an American film maker who filmed the removal of the Iceman from the ice died of brain tumor. Next died the actual hiker who first discovered the Iceman’s body, and then a scientist who was among the first ones to examine the Iceman. After that came the death of the person who led the search party to find the hiker.
The final death was that of an archaeologist who was instrumental in uncovering some important information on the Iceman. Some people believe that all these deaths are mere coincidence, but according to some it is the “Curse of the Iceman.”
7. Glavendrup Stone
The Glavendrup Stone, erected during the Viking period, contains Denmark’s longest runic inscription and ends in a curse which is said to befall anyone who dares to desecrate the stone.
Constructed in early 10th century, the Glavendrup Stone is a runestone on the island of Funen in Denmark. It was erected by Ragnhild and her sons in memory of her husband Ali. This runestone is famous as it contains Denmark’s longest runic inscription. But the inscription ends in a curse. According to the curse, anyone who drags it or damages it will become a warlock. In those times, the word “warlock” was used to denote someone who is considered unnatural and a social outcast.
8. The Busby’s Stoop Chair
When murderer Thomas Busby was condemned to death, the execution site, including the chair he last used, was rumored to be cursed. The belief in the curse grew in the 1970s when some fatal accidents were linked to the chair.
In 1702, a person named Busby had an argument with his father-in-law Auty regarding Auty’s daughter, Elizabeth. Due to this argument, Busby murdered Auty and was arrested, tried, and condemned to death. On his way to the gallows, Busby’s last request was to stop at the pub and drink one last ale. In the inn was his favorite chair currently known as the “Busby’s stoop chair.” It is said that while visiting the inn Busby proclaimed: “may sudden death come to anyone who dares sit in my chair.”
After Busby’s execution, the chair remained in the pub and people were dared to sit in it. In 1894, a chimney sweeper sat in it and was found the following morning hanging from a pole. During WWII, Canadian airmen visited the inn, and it is claimed that those who sat the in the chair never returned from their mission. In 1967, two Royal Air Force pilots sat in it and while driving back from the pub crashed into a tree and died. The list of deaths continued until the pub’s landlord became concerned about it. In 1978, he donated it to the Thirsk Museum on one condition – they would hang it from the ceiling so no one could sit in it again.
9. Tutankhamun’s Tomb
Shortly after the excavation of Tutankhamun’s Tomb by Howard Carter, some members of his team and other prominent visitors died and thus the belief in Tutankhamun’s “curse” was born.
Until October 1922, the boy-king Tutankhamun laid quietly in his grave unknown and untouched by people. But in November 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon discovered the chamber in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Suddenly, they became famous as the world’s attention turned towards the forgotten boy-king.
But then Lord Carnarvon was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito, a wound which he accidentally made worse while shaving, and died in a delirious fever. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, said it must be the “curse” of the mummy. Suddenly, newspapers started printing about how death would be inevitable for those who disturbed the young pharaoh. Peoples’ belief in the curse became stronger as more deaths followed. Lord Carnarvon’s pet bird was eaten by a snake and his dog died. Later, a radiologist who x-rayed the mummy died of a mysterious illness. A rich American died of pneumonia after visiting the tomb, and a member of Carter’s excavation team was said to have died of arsenic poisoning. But Howard Carter, the man who actually found Tutankhamun’s tomb, lived until 1939. People still wonder that if Tutankhamun’s curse exists, then why didn’t it affect Carter?
10. The “Crying-Boy” Painting
The curse related to the “Crying-Boy” painting began when it was reported that many houses containing the copy of the painting caught fire, but this painting was always found undamaged amidst the burnt ruins.
The Crying-Boy painting was painted by Italian painter Giovanni Bragolin. It was a popular painting and people loved to display it in their homes. Its copies were widely distributed from the 1950s onward. But the view about this painting changed after a statement of an Essex firefighter appeared in a well-known newspaper. The Essex firefighter claimed that in a number of houses destroyed due to fire, they have found a copy of this painting. Surprisingly, none of these paintings were damaged, even though nearby things had been burnt to ashes. He also stated that no firefighter would allow a copy of the painting into his own house.
This news spread like wildfire, and people started removing the painting from their homes believing it was cursed. To debunk this curse, Steve Punt, a British writer and comedian, investigated the painting in a program called Punt PI. In the program, the painting was tested at the Building Research Establishment. It was found that the prints were treated with a varnish containing a fire retardant. In case of fire, the string holding the painting to the wall would be the first to deteriorate. This resulted in the painting landing face down on the floor and thus being protected. But the program could not provide any explanation as to why no other paintings had turned up unscathed.