One area of the paranormal that has a rather sinister air about it is that of cursed or haunted items. These can come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, ranging from ancient artifacts to simply innocuous items like rocks that have become supposedly imbued with malevolent supernatural forces. Whatever form they take, these cursed objects are all similar in that they tend to have a habit of supposedly bringing strife, misfortune, and even death to those who would evoke their powers or wrath, and they are never something to be trifled with. Among these there are a great many curses said to revolve around items that have been kept in tombs or sacred places, sometimes jewelry or other personal belongings of the dead, and among the odder of these are the reports of cursed mummy hands.
When it comes to mummy curses, there is perhaps none as notorious and widely known as “King Tut’s Curse,” or "Curse of the Pharaohs," which revolves around the historic excavation of the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankhamun in 1923. Opening the long sealed tomb was said to have unleashed an insidious ancient curse, beginning with the death of Lord Carnarvon, a major funder of the dig, when he accidentally cut a mosquito bite while shaving and later died of aggressive complications from the resulting infection. This would kick off a whole series of mysterious deaths of people either involved with or linked to the King Tut tomb excavation that were attributed to the curse, of which I have written of here in detail already, but here we are talking about cursed mummy hands, and the Curse of King Tut certainly has one involved.
The odd story involves the leader of the expedition that excavated the tomb, the British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter, whose discovery of King Tut’s tomb made him an overnight celebrity. Although Carter seems to have escaped the supposed curse relatively intact, never having any particular misfortune and dying over a decade later in 1939 after a healthy life, one of his best friends, Sir Bruce Ingram wasn’t as lucky. At some point Ingram was gifted a mummified hand for use as a paper weight, and in addition to the debatable question of why anyone would chop off an Egyptian mummy’s hand as a macabre souvenir, some alarm bells should have been set off by what was etched into scarab bracelet it still wore, which read, “Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water and pestilence.” This somehow did not deter Ingram from using the grim paperweight, and his house promptly was razed to the ground in a freak fire, after which it was rebuilt to be soon after washed away by a flood. The hand was then disposed of and the house experienced no more problems.
Not nearly as well known, but perhaps even more ominous is an account given by paranormal researcher and owner of the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, Greg Newkirk, on the site Week in Weird. Newkirk says that the story came to his attention one day when an individual approached him to say that her grandmother was in possession of a mummified hand she had pilfered as a souvenir from an ancient burial ground in Nazca, Peru, and that this cursed object had brought all manner of strife and frightening paranormal phenomena upon their family. Considering that Newkirk’s museum houses numerous cursed items, and at the time he had indeed been displaying the notorious Crone of the Catskills, he asked her for more information, and the witness spun him a wild tale, indeed. She says of how the object had come into their possession and its immediate effects:
She’d always go on trips around the world. Back in the 70s, when I was 8, she went to the Amazon with my aunt. One day they went to an ancient burial ground. The ruins were in Peru’s Chauchilla Cemetery, near Nazca. Later that night, back at the hotel, my grandma showed my aunt a “souvenir” that she’d gotten. Out of her purse, she pulled a fucking HAND. Yeah, she’d found a skeletal hand at the burial ground and thought it would be a good idea to take it. My aunt freaked the hell out and insisted that it be returned, so the next day they talked to their tour guide, and they arranged to go back to the burial ground.
But the damage was done. One thing that happened was that immediately, my grandma developed some nail fungus. It was only on her thumbnails and big toenails. The nails grew in thick and yellow-brown, and no treatments were ever successful in getting rid of it. She’d kept in contact with several people from the tour, and two even came to visit us, but she was the only one this happened to. And the other thing was not just that the activity in the house increased, but it was…evil. Just a very dark entity. Whenever it came around you could just feel the air change and would be filled with dread. The dogs would go crazy. Sometimes it was physical.
This strange entity was apparently persistent and not ready to forgive their transgression, because according to the witness it would torment and terrorize the family for the next 30 years. During this time, they were plagued by countless instances of paranormal activity that would range from the annoying to the truly terrifying. Poltergeist activity was supposedly very common, including lights, faucets, and gas stoves turning on or off on their own, moving objects, and anomalous bangs and thuds at all hours. More frightening was the shadow figure seen looming about, which would physically push, poke, or prod family members, and even push the witness out of her bed when she was a little girl. She says of this malevolent entity and the first time she encountered it thusly:
I remember the first time. I don’t recall how long it was after the Amazon trip, but my grandparents went to church one night and left me home alone. I was just minding my own business, playing with the record player, and suddenly I felt this…presence. The air became heavy and I felt like I was being covered in darkness and I was suddenly SCARED OUT OF MY MIND. I looked over my shoulder but I didn’t see anything. The thing that strikes me as odd now is that we had three dogs, including a St. Bernard and a Shepherd, and they didn’t make a sound! I just remember the four of us running out to the garage, where I stayed until my grandparents came home. I told them what happened and once again it was brushed off.
So this went on for years. Same situation. Now another scary thing is that my grandmother would often see something running into my room. I always knew when she’d see it because she’d call out my name, kind of with a questioning inflection, but with an edge. And then something would happen – something would get knocked over or move in my room, or sit on the bed, and my dogs would go crazy. And at least a couple times I was pushed off my bed. I’d run out, screaming, but again…brushed off, everything’s fine, go back to your room.
Now here’s what completely disturbs me, and will probably disturb you, too. The description my grandmother gave of this thing was half-man, half-goat. She was definitely bothered by this, but I don’t think she knew what to do. It was the 70s/80s and no one talked about this stuff, and we certainly couldn’t talk about it with the church. A lot of times I would also wake up in the middle of the night with that feeling. And then something would be on top of me, holding me down and trying to strangle me.
This went on well into her adulthood, with her experiencing these nighttime visitations and phenomena only when she was staying at her grandmother’s house and nowhere else. None of this phenomena would stop until the grandmother finally passed away, after which the house returned to normal and the dark entity seems to have been appeased enough to leave them alone. What was this force and what did it want to constantly torment this family for decades? Who knows?
A spooky and quite odd report was relayed to me personally, concerning a witness who claims to have gotten a mummified hand as a gift from a friend. The hand was reportedly in the form of a shriveled skeletal hand, seemingly very old and human, with the classy addition of an ashtray set within its palm. I am not here to judge what sort of gift giving sense compels a person to by a cursed mummified hand ashtray as a present, but the thing was apparently found on eBay, and the friend apparently gave it as sort of a joke, and said that the eBay listing had advertised it as a “real cursed item.” Although it was apparently advertised as being a real mummified hand, the witness admits he is not sure if it is real or not, or if it is an ape or monkey hand. However, what does seem to be real are the various paranormal phenomena that he says plagued him from day one after receiving it.
The witness says that almost immediately things got quite odd when he noticed that every time he laid a cigarette down within the ashtray it would promptly go out. It wasn’t like it would just die down, but more like it was just abruptly extinguished. It is not normal at all, and this supposedly happened without fail, with cigarettes just snuffing out quickly when placed within. It was pretty anomalous, but the witness didn’t think too much of it at the time, just sort of shrugging his shoulders at it all, that is until other strange activity began to orbit the mysterious hand. He says that he began to see a tenuous figure standing in the shadows at times, never far from the hand, always in the periphery of the vision, and disappearing so fleetingly that he at first wrote it off as all in his imagination. These occurrences would often be followed by a noticeable drop in the room temperature that could not be explained. More ominously, he says that his pet parakeet was found dead at the bottom of its cage just one day after receiving the hand, its cause of death unknown.
Things would escalate when one day he reportedly put down a glass next to the ashtray and it suddenly was flung off the table by an unseen force. He tried to repeat the phenomenon by replacing the glass next to it, but this time nothing happened to glass, but rather a wall hanging fell from its perch to come smashing down to the floor. In the coming days he claims that he would feel a sort of static charge when in the vicinity of the ashtray, and that one time as he lit a cigarette the lighter belched a ball of flame that nearly burned him. Don't smoke, kids. He says that he then put the creepy hand away in a closet, but that the next day he woke to find it back out in the living room in its original position, despite the fact that he lived alone and no one could have done it. This happened a few times, and the witness says:
It’s like that hand wanted to stay put where it was. I’d move it into another room, come back a little while later, it was back to the original position. I put it in a closet, it would return. One time I even put it out in the yard and sure enough it was back where it started the following morning.
Increasingly worried, if the witness had had any doubts about this ashtray being truly cursed those had been put to rest. He went about trying to get any information on the background of the piece but came up empty. Not knowing what to do with it and afraid to damage it in anyway or destroy it, lest that make whatever was attached to it angry, he says he ended up going out to a riverside and tossing the thing in to be carried away. The next morning, he half expected to wake up and go into his living room to find it back to its spot, but this time it was gone for good and so was the paranormal activity. He says he quit smoking shortly after that. There is a disturbingly large number of supposedly haunted and cursed items up for sale on eBay, so who knows what to think of it. What are we to think of such stories? Are these objects that have for whatever reasons attached a spirit or other entity to them? If so, why should they gravitate towards these hands and what do they want? There is no way to know, but one thing that is for sure is that it is probably a good rule of thumb to stop stealing mummy hands or giving them as gifts.