4 Legendary Objects That Probably Won’t Hurt You But Maybe Don’t Touch Them

Looking but not touching has never been a better course of action
4 Legendary Objects That Probably Won’t Hurt You But Maybe Don’t Touch Them

Supposedly cursed objects and haunted houses are a dime a dozen in the Blumhouse era, but most such “curses” are by necessity so vague as to be meaningless. If you only claim that generally bad things tend to happen in the vicinity of some ugly doll, you can count anything from tragic accidents to bad breakups. On the other hand, some curses are incredibly specific. Such as…

The Mouth of Truth

If you’ve seen Roman Holiday, you’ll recognize the Bocca della Verità, aka the Mouth of Truth. If you prefer movies made this century, it’s a marble sculpture housed in a church in Rome that kinda looks like a deeply shocked Rankin/Bass version of Santa Claus.

No one is totally clear what it is or what it’s supposed to be. All we know is that it’s probably some kind of god, carved from a disc that was maybe a manhole cover, dating back to the first century B.C.E. (Those Ancient Romans were a resourceful bunch.)

Oh, yeah, it also bites the hands of liars. It was supposedly used as a Middle Age polygraph test during legal proceedings, but ever since, it’s mostly functioned as an attraction for tourists who are way too confident in their integrity and/or ability to trick a statue. That’s the basis of its appearance in Roman Holiday — Gregory Peck even sticks his hand in it. He was a huge liar, though, so it’s about as accurate as a modern polygraph.

The Sesshoseki

There are plenty of sesshoseki, or “killing stones,” all over Japan, though it’s not the rocks that kill you so much as the poisonous gasses wafting up from the mountains they sit on, but only one is the Sesshoseki. It lives in the mountains of Nasu just outside Tokyo, and it’s said to house the spirit of a beautiful, serial seducer of royalty who was actually a nine-tailed fox (just go with it) that was killed in the 12th century. She’s a bit of a grudge holder, so anyone who gets too close to the stone is killed (although, again, this probably has more to do with all the volcanic gas than vengeful fox hoes).

In 2022, believers shit themselves when the rock spontaneously split open, surely freeing the spirit of the evil/slutty fox. Officials believe it was years of rain seeping into cracks in the rock, but whatever the cause, the town called in a priest, pronto. In a ceremony that was at least a little bit serious but also featured the town’s cartoon mascot, “prayers were offered by the priest to lay the spirit to rest,” and afterward, an eerie fog descended over the area. 

Sooooo… fingers crossed?

The Te Papa Taonga

In 2010, New Zealand’s Te Papa museum emailed the staff of other museums in the area to invite them on a behind-the-scenes tour featuring “taonga” — masks and other battle “treasures” — provided by local Maori tribes. On one condition: Anyone who was pregnant or menstruating was asked to check it out another time for their own safety. Why? Were the masks going to blow cigarette smoke in everyone’s faces? Were they actually bears? Did everyone just not want any cranky ladies around?

It turned out to be religion. The Maori hold both the taonga and pregnant or menstruating women sacred — they’re not allowed to garden or cook, either — and they believe that if two sacred things interact, it will be bad. It’s not clear how, or what could possibly be worse than the fate menstruating or pregnant women are already suffering, but it’s presumably the spiritual equivalent of combining pure sodium and water. Just an explosion of wrath and tampons.

Busby’s Stoop Chair

Here’s what we know: In the early 1700s, Thomas Busby was convicted of killing his partner in an underworld business deal gone wrong and sentenced to death. He may or may not have convinced his super cool jailers to let him have one last pint at a pub on the way to his hanging, at which point he may or may not have said, “May sudden death come to anyone who dare sit in my chair,” before getting on with the business of getting hanged.

It sounds like the sort of thing your buddies would tell you after a jerk number of beers, but several deaths have actually been connected to the chair, some occurring just minutes later. By 1978, the pub’s owner was so spooked that he asked a museum to haul it away and also hang it from the ceiling to make extra sure no one ever sits in it again.

Could those deaths be chalked up to coincidence? Sure. After all, plenty of people must have sat in it who went on to have many more years of drinking beer. Is there any contemporary evidence that Busby uttered the curse or even set foot in that pub? Nope. Have experts determined that the chair actually dates back to no earlier than 1840? They sure have. Are we sitting in it? Fuck no.

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