A mysterious message was inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain on Sunday—and the riddle held within has Bitcoiners eager to figure out the meaning in case there’s a hidden tease about a hot new Ordinals art project.

“10,000 sats, side by side,” the message found in Ordinals inscription 55,365,041 reads. “A single UTXO, untouched inside. Born together, cursed at heart. Built with code, Bitcoin Art.” The message was followed by a string of numbers 391481082118 – 391481092117.

In cryptocurrency, Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) refers to the amount of that currency, in this case, Bitcoin, that remains after a transaction. The unspent funds are then used in new transactions.

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The cryptic message has left many in the Ordinals community perplexed as to its meaning. The phrasing suggests a potential Ordinals art or profile picture (PFP) project, as many NFT projects tend to have 10,000 different unique images/assets, but for now, Bitcoiners are left to guess and hunt around for clues ahead of any proper reveal.

“They didn’t really leave us much info about what the collection actually is,” pseudonymous NFT historian and Ordinals collector Leonidas told Decrypt.

Like the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” message from the classic film “The Shining,” the message scrolls on repeat in the inscription. “Born together, cursed at heart” is a possible reference to the inscription’s “cursed” parent Ordinal. A search on Ordiscan shows the inscription tied to another or “parent inscription,” -471,460, that features a picture of a tower or obelisk.

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While it may sound like the title or a MacGuffin of a horror movie, Cursed Ordinals, also known as Cursed Inscriptions, refers to Ordinals that the Ord indexer originally overlooked, causing them to not show in wallets and marketplaces. Cursed Ordinals, like the tower, receive a negative number until they are resolved.

“The original version of the Ordinals indexer did not catch them; the newer versions do,” Leonidas said. “The issue is that because of inscription numbers, if you make it catch them in new versions, then it would reorder old inscription numbers,” he said, explaining that cursing or giving the inscription a negative number was the solution.

The so-called “cursed ordinal” was linked to another parent inscription, 53,383,387, that showed a white door under a black arch.

“We just had the Jubilee upgrade a week ago that ‘blessed’ the edge cases that cause cursed inscriptions,” Leonidas said. “So now all new inscriptions created in weird ways get a normal positive number and are not cursed,” explaining that all previously cursed inscriptions remain “cursed” with negative numbers… forever.

“So the supply of ~470k cursed inscriptions is locked forever now,” he said.

Since the Ordinals protocol launched last January, over 55 million items have been minted on the Bitcoin blockchain, according to a Dune data dashboard.

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The cryptic message joins other inscriptions, including a clone of the seminal first-person shooter Doom, and more recently, a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) emulator. Ordinals have also been used to inscribe artwork and PFP collections on the chain, as well as create a standard for deploying fungible tokens on Bitcoin.

The popularity of the Bitcoin equivalent of the NFTs found on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains has caused fees on the leading blockchain to skyrocket. In December, the fees for a single Bitcoin transaction reached $37.43, according to Bitinfocharts.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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