One of the top 10 things to do in Key West, Florida is to visit the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. If you are like weird and crazy things, you will love it. It is impossible to cover all the artifacts displayed in there, but below are some of the weirdest and the coolest ones.
This is the skeleton of the Fiji Island Mermaid, you can see the body of a fish and the skull that looks humanoid. A man by the name of Barnum charged 25 cents per head to view this in 1842. Now, is it real? No, when he was about to die, Barnum revealed the secret; he had fused the skeletons of the upper half of a monkey with the lower half of a fish. This is world’s greatest hoax by the way.
|A human torso shrunk to 25% of its size|
This is a human Shrunken Torso: The Jivaro Indians of Ecuador were the only people on earth to have practiced the ancient craft of head shrinking. The heads of slain enemies were carefully preserved in a week long ritual and shrunken to a quarter of their normal size. This shrunken torso was originally purchased in Panama by author Ernest Hemingway.
|Ceylonese Naga Mask -What's in its mouth?|
Next is a Naga Mask, the Nagas are a reptilian race who lived underground and their sculptures are found in many Asian countries. This mask was used to help exorcise evil spirits from people who are believed to be possessed. Robert Ripley bought this mask from the island of Sri Lanka in 1936.
|Okipa, a strange self-mutilating ceremony|
Here you can see a Native American ritual called Okipa practiced by a tribe called Mandan in North Dakota. There are three stages of self-mutilation in this ritual; warriors were first hung from rafters with ropes attached by pegs inserted under their flesh. Buffalo skulls would be skewered to their legs to weigh them down. Their flesh would tear after a few minutes and they would fall.
|West African Voodoo Effigy used to defeat and destroy enemies|
This is the West African Hate God used as a Voodoo doll to hex the enemies. The Kondes people of West Africa brought this culture into America in 1809 when they came in as black slaves. Nails would be inserted into the doll slowly; day by day which is supposed to inflict painful mental and physical suffering on the enemy who would be tortured by an invisible spirit.
|Iron Maiden - A medieval torture device|
Speaking of torture, the medieval Germans used a more direct technique to torture women who were unfaithful. This device called the Iron Maiden has 14 spikes that are aligned to pierce the eyes, the throat and the heart. The victims, who were put inside, were so mutilated by this device, that it was often set on a drawbridge over water. The mangled body could then be released into the water without having to be handled. If you think this is gruesome, you should visit Chillingham Castle's torture chamber.
|Why would coffins need bells?|
Here is a coffin with a bell attached to it and you can see it ringing. In the early 19th century, because of medical misdiagnosis, being buried alive by mistake occurred with alarming regularity. To prevent premature burials, coffins were designed with alarm bell attachments. If a “dead” body awoke within the coffin, the attached bell could be rung from inside the coffin to alert gravediggers or other passerby. This is where the phrase “saved by the bell” came from.
|Wang, a Chinese man had a horn which was more than 1 foot long!|
This is a model of a human unicorn who lived in Manchuria, China. His name was Wang and he had a 13 inch horn growing out the back of his head. He was a normal human being in all other aspects and was photographed by Robert Ripley in 1931.
|Garuda's Talon - a unique weapon from India|
What we see here is the Garuda’s Talon. Used throughout India, these fingernail daggers are often worn by a group called Thuggees. This group gave rise to English word word Thug. These guys would make befriend innocent travelers, and would then rip the throats of their victims from behind with one slash of these deadly talons.
|The Afghan Girl made from jigsaw pieces. Double click to enlarge & search for a U.S flag!|
This the famous Afghan Girl from a National Geographic magazine cover. Look carefully and you will notice that while the portrait is made entirely of jigsaw pieces, they are not interlocked and the thousands of pieces used are actually from over 90 different puzzles all bought at garage sales! The person who made it, Doug Powell always has an American Flag somewhere in his portraits. Can you find the flag in this picture?
|Papua New Guinea's tribal fertility statue - How many limbs does it have?|
This is a rare example of “erotica” in the Ripley collection. This statue was actually worshiped by natives of New Guinea as a good luck fertility statue. This was acquired by Robert Ripley in 1932.
|Ibeji Idols of Nigeria|
Here we have the African Ibeji Idols. The Yoruba people of Nigeria refer to twins as Ibeji. In this culture, twins are honored and worshiped as people with special powers. These 2 statues are kept by the twins’ mother in the belief they can influence the work of the twins and bring prosperity to the entire family. The carved statues are honored regularly with offerings of food and are decorated with cowrie shell ropes. Believe it or not, the Yoruba give birth to the highest percentage of twins of any peoples in the world.
|A motorcycle made of various bones|
How about a Bad to the Bone Motorcycle? This is a unique motorcycle made entirely from the bones of dead animals. Most of the parts are from cows that died naturally, but the feature pieces like the alligator fender, and seat, and the turtle shell headlight, were made from bones of road kill found on Florida’s country roads.
Can a woman deliver a baby in her 40s? How about in her 50s or 60s? A woman by the name of Felipa Grijalba in Columbia was married at the age of one hundred. She gave birth to a child at the age of one hundred and one. This was verified by Military Surgeon, Lt. Robert Wesselhoeft Junior and she died at 120.
|A necklace made from snake vertebrae - from India|
Here is a necklace made entirely from interlocked snake vertebrae. The snake is one of the world’s most universally feared animals and Indian warriors believed that they could scare their enemies simply by wearing clothing and jewelry adorned with parts of snakes.
|Tibetan Bone Rugen - made from dead people's bones|
The people of Tibet took these scary costumes one step further. This is the Tibetan Human Bone Rugen made entirely of carved human bones. This was worn by Lamaist Shamans when exorcising demons and is believed to be possessed with the spirit of the deceased.
|Carretto - Sicilian cart which are still used in the island|
Here we can see a beautifully painted 19th century cart called “Carretto” which is a Sicilian Donkey Cart. The finest workmanship on a “Carretto” is always on the axle where no one can see it without crawling underneath the cart. You can see the reflection on a mirror at the museum.
|The Tribal Dance Dress of New Guinea - looks more like an ostrich than an evil spirit!|
Up next is a Dance Dress from New Guinea. This was worn by a chief during a ten-hour dance ceremony prior to a hunting expedition. The dress represents an evil forest spirit.
|Mud Men mask of the Asaro Tribe|
In the same Island, a tribe called Asaro wore these masks called “Mud Men” masks and believed that whoever wore this would become an invincible spirit. The masks have unusual designs, like long or short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths.
|A Unique Hindu Astrological Chart|
This is the Astrological Chart from the country of Nepal. The horoscope used in Nepal and Tibet dates the beginning of the world in 27th century B.C. Based on a complex system with twelve animals and five elements, it is common practice to have horoscope, cast by a shaman at the birth of each new child. These “charts” are then consulted and interpreted at important moments of the child’s life, such as puberty, seeking a job, and prior to marriage.
|Joker - Why So Serious?|
Here is the Joker, Heath Ledger made entirely from 336 Rubik’s cubes by a man called David Alvarez. He creates portrait mosaics from Post-it notes, dice and playing cards. There are 43 quintillion possible positions on a 3 inch by 3 inch Rubik’s cube and yet the current world record shows a man can solve it in 5.55 seconds.
|Thailand's Divine Scare Crows - Rama Rice Field Effigies|
These are the Rama Rice Field Statues from Thailand. The Hindu God Rama is associated with both fertility and protection in this country. Believed to be able to protect crops while assuring a bountiful harvest, statues of Rama are set in the ground at opposite ends of rice fields to act as divine scarecrows.
|A table carved from a single tree root in Indonesia|
Here is a strange artifact called the Indonesian Demon Table. Look carefully and you’ll learn that it is carved from a single tree root. In the Hindu pantheon, the demons are usually shown at the bottom which are shown here as the legs of the table. It is unknown how the wood was died pink.
|A rare modern day giant - Robert Pershing Wadlow|
Standing here is a modern day Giant, Robert Wadlow. He started his abnormal growth at age 2, following a double hernia operation and at age 8, Robert was already 6’ tall; by the time he was 13, he was over 7’ tall and considerably taller than his older brother. In 1940, at the age of 22, he had an arm span of 9 ½ feet, wore size 37AA shoes, weighed over 440 pounds and was 8’ 11” tall. United States has had a long history of Giants in its past though.
|A beautiful ship made entirely from matchsticks|
These model ships are made from hundreds of household matchsticks by Len Hughes from Australia. In the past, matchstick ships were mostly created by prisoners who had life sentences who had to pass their time in a creative way with pretty much no tools. They were sold for a lot of money by prison guards, but unfortunately no one knew who made them.
|A mask with 9 demon faces, usually hung from the doorway|
Finally, this is a demon mask from Bali, Indonesia. Brightly painted to terrify viewers the mask features nine demon faces of importance to followers of the Hindu religion. This mask was not meant to be worn but rather to be hung from a doorway in order to prevent evil from entering. This practice of hanging demon masks still exists among the followers of Hinduism.