Bonus CURSED OBJECTS Material: The Sacred Cat Rug

This item didn’t make it past the first draft of the table of contents for Cursed Objects (which changed regularly over the course of the book). I still personally visited it, though. Had to. As I will visit any cursed object for the rest of my life because of this project. So I wrote this piece special for OTIS to explain why it’s not in the book. Although I’m still second-guessing my decision.

It was a cursed rug. Perfect for the Cursed Objects book. Exactly fit the idea of an item you could innocently buy at an estate sale. Every fact of its existence screamed for inclusion. Except one. The one that mattered.

Fact of Existence #1: It’s Egyptian. Found by a fisherman on the banks of the Nile in an occupied mummy casket. All ancient Egyptian stuff is cursed because it’s all been ripped from tombs, interrupting the afterlife of an immortality-obsessed culture. It’s like yanking an angel down by the ankles from Heaven and throwing them in a zoo. Shit’s comin’ down on you for that.

Fact of Existence #2: At 2,400 years old, it is quite possibly the oldest surviving rug on the planet.

Fact of Existence #3: It’s made of god-hair. Egyptian god-hair. Meaning cat. There’s even an image of a cat on the rug. A cat made of cat hair. Which doesn’t sound strange when I type it out like that.

Fact of Existence #4: The mummy it was buried with was a princess, and her foot had been broken off to make it easier to steel the jewels on her toes and ankles. Fun fact: For living feet, the opposite is true.

Fact of Existence #5: It kills anyone who walks on it. That floor really is lava. When was the last time you suspected one of your rugs of nefarious agendas?

Face of Existence #6: The museum that owns it displays it on a wall. Which is ideal for the curse story, since it means they’re protecting you from walking on it. And, yeah, yeah, I know, that’s how you’re supposed to display an artifact rug anyway. Be quiet.

Fact of Existence #7: The mummified foot is also on display there.

That museum is the Villa Zorayda Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. Built in 1883 by Boston millionaire Franklin Smith as a winter home and based on the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain (at a 1/10th scale), the Moors-inspired palace is stuffed with antiques mostly thanks to its second owner, Abraham S. Mussalem, who opened it as a nightclub and gambling den before eventually creating a museum out of the place in 1936. He’s the one who brought the sacred cat rug. And the foot it came with.

He got it from a man named Ben Yakar, who bought the set for one franc in 1861, and then willed it to Mussalem upon his death in 1863, with the stipulation that it stay in Mussalem’s family as long as he had an heir. And that, I assume, is either because he wanted to curse Mussalem’s family or wanted to keep the curse contained, I’m not sure.

So why didn’t this go in the book, complete with awesome blue-tinged illustration by Jon MacNair (and giving him I assume his first ever assignment to draw a cat penis)? There’s no trail of bodies. Not a single even vague story of some rando dying from treading across the cat fur just because he wanted a beer from the fridge.

And I didn’t need Jason Voorhees-levels of victims for it to have gotten into the book, but I need at least two.

But there’s still hope. Every cursed object had a first victim. Maybe it’ll get busy before Cursed Objects, Volume II.

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