What Are Cursed Inscriptions? A Beginner's Guide

Learn about cursed inscriptions, a subset of Ordinals that weren’t initially indexed by the ord indexer.

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Elizabeth Olson


December 5, 2023

Cursed inscriptions, a subset of Bitcoin Ordinals, have become quite popular in the Ordinals community. 

Read on to learn what cursed inscriptions are, how they came about, and how to buy them.

What Are Ordinal Inscriptions?

Ordinal inscriptions, also known as digital artifacts, are unique digital assets native to Bitcoin. They are created by inscribing (appending) text, video, audio, or images to a single satoshi (sat), the smallest Bitcoin unit, using the Ordinals protocol. 

The Ordinals protocol enables the inscribing of digital artifacts directly on the blockchain without requiring any code changes to Bitcoin. Instead, the protocol introduces a numbering scheme known as Ordinal Theory to allocate ordinal numbers to sats starting from zero in the order in which they are mined and transferred from transaction input to transaction output. 

This numbering system allows users to find and track the movement of inscribed sats throughout the existing Bitcoin supply. As a result, they can be traded or transferred from one wallet to another.

Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions were rolled out in January 2023 by developer Casey Rodarmor. Since then, asset issuance on the Bitcoin blockchain has grown to include native fungible tokens powered by the BRC-20 token standard.

What Are Cursed Ordinal Inscriptions?

Cursed Ordinal inscriptions are digital artifacts that didn’t receive an inscription number because they were not indexed and recognized by the Ord software. 

The term “cursed” Ordinal inscriptions emerged when it was discovered that some people had inaccurately used or intentionally misused opcodes to create inscriptions, leading to digital artifacts that the Ord software couldn’t identify. 

Opcodes or operation codes are instructions that enable developers to program operations on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Cursed inscriptions are created in four ways: 

  • When multiple inscriptions are included in one transaction.
  • When inscriptions are generated using even-numbered opcodes like OP_66.
  • When numerous inscriptions are bound to one satoshi.
  • When inscriptions are made on the input after the first. 

While these are the main ways to create cursed inscriptions, more cursed inscription types are still being discovered.

The problem of cursed inscriptions was first raised on GitHub in April. The temporary fix was to alter the Ord software to recognize these invalid inscriptions and assign them negative numbers starting from -1. 

Soon after the issue was identified, the Ordinals community turned cursed inscriptions into an opportunity. Many rushed to generate the first 10,000 cursed inscriptions on the assumption that they would be valuable. 

Popular Ordinal collections like Bitcoin Punks, Inscribed Pepes, DogePunks, and Ordinal Penguins already have cursed inscriptions within the 5,000 range. 

The Cursed Ordinals Debate And Its Outcome

The rise in the intentional production of cursed inscriptions led to the debate on whether the Ordinals team should release a software update that maintained the negative inscription numbers of these assets.

With the release of the v0.6.0 update in June, cursed inscriptions were permitted to retain their negative numbers, but this could change over time. 

The software update included a future block activation height that will give all new inscriptions that would have previously been cursed positive numbers. This upgrade would transform them into “blessed” assets. All cursed inscriptions before this block height will retain their negative numbers. 

The update supports a certain subset of cursed inscriptions, meaning that the Ord software now recognizes all the 71,000+ cursed inscriptions, making them tradeable once Ordinals marketplaces have upgraded to the new software release.

The second debate revolves around cursed inscriptions generated using the OP_66 opcode. The discussion centers on whether these types of cursed inscriptions should be included in the cursed set or rejected. The Ord software doesn’t recognize OP-66 and has deliberately omitted even numbered opcodes for future development.

The Ordinals team is still considering support for cursed inscriptions based on OP_66. Therefore, the v0.6.0 doesn’t support these cursed digital artifacts. 

According to Rodarmor, supporting OP_66 and other even-numbered opcodes isn’t the best idea since inscriptions created using them would be unbound. That means they wouldn’t be attached to a specific sat, making them untradeable and untransferable.  

How to Buy Cursed Inscriptions Using Xverse

Now, let’s take a look at how you can buy cursed inscriptions using your Xverse Ordinals wallet.

First, you need to download the Xverse Chrome Extension if you don't have it already. Set it up and fund it with BTC.

Next, open the Magic Eden marketplace in your browser. Click the Bitcoin logo to view Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions. 

Connect your Xverse wallet and sign in to verify wallet ownership.

Once you are done, scroll down and look for cursed inscriptions in the list of top collections. 

Alternatively, use the search bar to look for the cursed inscription collection you’re interested in.

Explore the listed cursed inscriptions until you find the one you want. Note that you can view more details on an inscription by clicking the square button on the bottom right-hand side of the image.

When you have found a suitable cursed inscription, choose your preferred network fee level and click “Buy Now.” 

Keep in mind that Bitcoin miners could prioritize your transaction over others if you pay a higher fee.

Once your transaction has been confirmed, Magic Eden will send your cursed inscription to your Xverse wallet. This should take around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on transaction fees and the level of activity on the Bitcoin blockchain.


Where can you buy cursed inscriptions? 

You can buy cursed inscriptions on Ordinals marketplaces like Magic Eden and Ordinals Market using Xverse wallet. However, remember that cursed inscriptions are highly risky assets with no guarantee of the resale value going up. Therefore, don’t invest money you cannot afford to lose. It’s also important to research a collection thoroughly before making any purchase.

Can you inscribe cursed ordinals?

Yes, you can inscribe cursed ordinals on the Looks Ordinal platform. Looks Ordinal is focused on providing inscribing services. It allows users to inscribe Ordinal inscriptions, cursed inscriptions, and BRC-20 tokens. 

Ensure the cursed inscription box is ticked when inscribing a cursed digital artifact. Otherwise, you will inscribe a regular Ordinal inscription.

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