“This is a true story in Ras el Khaimah, United Arab Emerites. This picture has been released as a police report evidence in the UAE. The story is that a young man went in the caves in Ras el Khaimah to take pictures in caves known to be deserted, with a friend. He had been warned not to go. The person who had been with him called the police saying he had seen his friend’s flash go off and then his friend screamed. He called his friend but never got an answer and got scared that he’d fallen so went to the police. A few hours later they found the man in the cave dead and the single picture found in his camera is this one.”
The image circulated first in the middle of the 1990s in England, with a slightly different story. “John”, 33 years old, was said to have visited Saudi Arabia, and there he heard friends speak about a picture taken at the caves of the area. The alleged photographer didn’t die: he just thought he had seen something and shot the picture, noticing the strange creature in detail only after the picture was developed. The locals referred to the creature as a “Djinn”, a type of demon.
When he returned to England, “John” tried to sell the copy that he got. But with the publication of the image in the Bornemouth Advertiser, the “djinn” was soon identified as a sculpture. And not even an Arab sculpture, but part of the attractions of a theme park in the Cheddar caves, in Somerset, UK! Yes, the same caves from where the fungus that gives name to the popular cheese came.
The British magazine ForteanTimes had already clarified the picture in 1995:
The note on FT included another picture of the sculpture (without a crease) and a statement from Bob Smart, director of Cheddar Showcaves & Gorge. The illustration is part of the attraction “Crystal Quest” that attracted millions of visitors since its opening in 1991. The ‘djinn’, actually a goblin, is at a grotto with Lord of the Rings-like sculptures created by Rowland Pavey.
The explanation is simple and clear, however one can find in the internet what is supposed to be the email of an employee at Cheddar Showcaves & Gorge denying that the terrifying creature is one of its attractions. Things may be slightly confusing, but fortunately a Turkish newspaper visited the attraction recently and got many photos of the sculpture, including these:
Is it curious to note, as the Turkish newspaper highlights, that in the original sculpture the creature is holding a knife in its right hand. In retrospect, one can notice this even in the original creased image of the ‘djinn.’
The goblin of Cheddar, in a new digital version, also circulated some time ago as being a chupacabras captured accidentally while some friends were celebrating:
It is just the same ‘djinn’, inserted digitally.
That the image has circulated so much, and in so many ways, is probably due to the talent of Pavey, the sculptor. It is an impressive illustration, to find it in a deserted and dark cave could kill somebody sensitive. A heart attack, who knows.
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Hat tip to Jorge Petretski and Andréia Tschiedel
– The Turkish newspaper page with the more recent images of Pavey’s goblin was Efsane cin’ enselendi, but it seems to have been removed since.
UPDATE 01/2009: Oh, the wonders of Internet, where you can now find this picture:
Or this one, another from Cheddar Showcaves & Gorge:
Alas, you can also find that apparently the impressive sculptures were repainted and now look ridiculous:
Rest in piece, El Khaimah Djinn.
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