The Curious and Deadly Tale of the Basano Vase


The Basano Vase is a curiously strange tale.  Surrounded in death, the vase was considered cursed by those who possessed it, but seemingly cursed without explanation.  In fact, no one really understands how or why it became so powerful or where the curse originated from.  Also, unlike other haunted or cursed objects, the Basano Vase isn’t available for scrutiny; in fact its whereabouts are unknown.  There are no direct eyewitness accounts of the problematic vase, only stories of its deadly power. From what is commonly known, the vase was a simple silver design, weighing approximately 4 pounds, and was crafted sometime during the 15th Century as a wedding gift.   It’s been listed on multiple websites as one of the most haunted objects known to mankind, but the lack of details on the origin of the vase continue to perplex even the most diligent students of the paranormal.

The earliest account of the vase dates back to the 15th Century in a small town north of Napoli, Italy.  The legend says that the vase was given to a young bride on the night before her wedding; perhaps as a gift of good fortune, or perhaps something more sinister.  Unfortunately, the young woman never made it to her own wedding; she was discovered dead the next morning.  Some say it was murder, while others have no explanation – it’s likely that the latter has more credibility since there are no records of a murder investigation.  The murder angle isn’t always part of the story, but it will be examined as we review the stories.  Little information has survived about the bride-to-be or her suitor, including their names.

Soon after the young woman was interred, the Basano Vase was given to another family member; who sadly also perished, shortly after receiving it.  It was once again passed to another family member, with the same unfortunate ending; another quick death almost immediately after taking possession of the vase.  The family soon came to the understanding that the vase was cursed and connected to death somehow, so they had it hidden away.  There are several claims on how it was hidden away.  Some say it was buried while others speak of it being hidden by a Priest; presumably in a church or other holy resting place.  Both versions could be true, for the tale takes an abrupt hiatus for hundreds of years.  What happened from the time the family decided to part with the Basano Vase permanently and it’s much later rediscovery is unknown.

The Basano Vase remained hidden, until it resurfaced in 1988, bringing more hardship and death along with it.  The tale of the rediscovery tells how it was found by an unsuspecting young man who had dug it up somewhere; again there is much frustration about the lack of specific details on locations and names.  Some say his yard, while other versions simple skip over the geography.  It’s also been said that the Basano Vase was buried with a note that stated, “Beware…This vase brings death.”  Apparently this warning had little effect on the young man who unearthed it.  He must have only looked at the financial ramifications of the item and disregarded the message.  The vase was quickly auctioned off, sans the warning note, for 4 million Italian Lire ($2,540.00 US dollars) to a pharmacist.  We don’t know the name of the auction house, the buyer, or the man who made the discovery.

The poor pharmacist died after three months and his family sold the vase to a doctor, who himself died at the age of 37 only a few short months later.  It was sold once again to an archeologist who was a collector of artifacts.  Within three months, the collector too had perished; his cause of death was a mysterious infection. The causes of death in the other, modern-day victims have not been detailed.  The stories continued with one last sale.  Information about the last owner is even thinner than the previous ones; except for the fact that he perished less than a month after taking possession, little is known.  The string of deaths hadn’t gone unnoticed and the Basano Vase became unsellable.  And, if we are to believe the stories, at this time a family member of the last victim was said to have tossed it out a window in an attempt to break free from the curse.

Although the family was spared further tragedy, the story doesn’t end simply.  The vase nearly struck a Carabinieri (police officer) who retrieved it with the intention of fining the person who threw it at him.  It was said that the family accepted a fine for littering but refused to take the vase back.  The Polizia di Stato attempted to place the artifact in a museum, but word had already circulated about the vase being cursed; so strong was the belief that no institution would accept it.  This fact seems somewhat difficult to comprehend since many of the world’s Egyptian artifacts as well as other things taken from tombs across the globe are suspected to be cursed yet still reside in museums.  A few versions of the story tell of one Carabinieri who could “feel” the negative energy of the vase and took it upon himself to dispose of it.  The Basano Vase was said to be once again reburied in an undisclosed location.  Some say in a lead box, others say in the holy ground of a cemetery, and still other versions say both.

As we can see, the story details change often, depending on who is telling them.  In researching the history of the vase, there is no shortage of different theories and angles.  Many paranormal sites go out of their way to add verbiage to gin-up the tale so as to make it seem like a much stronger story than it really is.  Other sites mention a 1989 ex-Yugoslav magazine, but provide no link to the piece or even the name of the magazine.  Also, there seems to be only one photograph that is circulated throughout the numerous writings.  Still others use the vase as a segue into stories about other cursed or haunted objects.  It’s often found on top ten lists of cursed objects.

As mentioned at the start of this piece, the story is thin on details, but in investigative fairness it makes sense to review the different theories for validity and substance.   One of the main glaring things missing from most accounts is the answer to “why” the Basano Vase is cursed.  The prevailing thought relies almost completely on the murder, versus untimely death, angle.  That account tells the horrific tale of a young woman murdered, but before she passes over into veil is said to have whispered, in her dying breath, that she would have vengeance of some manner.  It’s a great story, almost Hollywood-esque, but appears to be a fabrication by all accounts.  Most of the major details, such as everyone’s name, locations of where the events took place, and who crafted the Basano Vase are missing.  Also no motive for murder seems to be evident.  Yet, despite most of the key components being absent, this story tells of the woman’s dying words and her wish for vengeance.

Also, examining the details with a broader brush, the fact that the Basano Vase was made of silver makes it an unlikely choice for a cursed object.  Silver has the reputation of being an element used to stop or ward off evil, not to propagate it.  It’s always considered to be on the positive side in the battle between good and evil.  Magickal items of protection are routinely made of silver.  The only thing that really discolors silver is sulfur, which is associated with many different concepts of evil.  It would seem that any curse powerful enough to stick to a 4 pound silver object must be very powerful and very dangerous.

A decorative Shiliuzun vase from the Yongzheng period

Another angle worth considering is the fact that the Basano Vase was very plain in a time when plain was not in vogue.  Silver art was crafted in the Renaissance, however most vases were porcelain and decorated exquisitely with multiple colors and scenes of Italian life at the time. Also, the shape and style of the Basano Vase doesn’t fit with the time period it was supposedly crafted either.  One of the strange features is the lack of a flat bottom.  It resembles a bottle vase with a much wider, scalloped opening at the top, indicating something later than the 15th Century and not Italian.  The closest comparison might be the Chinese Shiliuzun or Pomegranate vase from the Quin Dynasty in the mid to late 1700’s.  There are also silver Persian vases which resemble the Basano Vase, but none of them are plain on the exterior and none primarily from the 1400’s.

Some of the lesser details could be further investigated, but based on the cursory information gathered for this work, it’s clear that the cursed Basano Vase has roots that go much deeper than the stories tell.  The back story could have been a creation of the individual who unearthed it in 1988, or are a variation on another cursed object tale.  If it wasn’t for the number of quick death associated with it in the 1980’s no one would pay attention to it.  But, the number of deaths connected to it is too many to be coincidental and cannot be simply brushed aside.  It’s obvious that the vase has a negative imprint on it; one that is strong enough to last for several decades.  We know that many antiques carry powerful energy; some due to an event in their past which infused them with something terrible or a small few which have purposefully been weaponized through a curse, hex, or execration.  What we don’t know is which type was connected to the Basano Vase and since it’s currently missing, we may never know.

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