La Tumba Encadenada (Chained Tomb)

By: Perla Hernandez

This picture was taken on my recent trip to Mexico. This is the cemetery that is located in the far end of our town, which is said to have the unmarked tomb of Maximo in a far end that is blocked off and isolated.

This picture was taken on my recent trip to Mexico. This is the cemetery that is located in the far end of our town, which is said to have the unmarked tomb of Maximo in a far end that is blocked off and isolated.

When I was younger, I lived in Mexico for about a year and a half. Adapting to the culture was definitely something my sibling and I had trouble with.  We lived in the countryside with rivers, farms, and abandoned places that were our main sources of entertainment. Since we were young and naïve, we spent most of our nights scaring each other by running through buildings that were said to be haunted. We created our own ghost stories and retold ancient horror stories while sitting in the haunted houses and on our homemade tire swings.

The story about La tumba encadenada or Chained Tomb is one of my all-time favorite ghost stories. This story originates back to my mother’s youth. This is one of our favorite ancient horror stories that we love to retell at family gatherings.

Chained Tomb is about Maximo Rivera, a man that every women wanted, and that every man wanted to be. He was brutally killed by the men of his city because they were terribly jealous of his fame and success. The murder was instigated by his brother Lorenzo, whose envy was greater than anyone else’s. The malevolence stemmed from the fact that Maximo was extremely greedy. His murder would later prove that greed as strong as his never dies.

Maximo was humiliated by being chained up to a carriage and dragged through the city while the villagers spat at him. They all followed him to an unmarked tomb, where piece by piece, he was buried. Before closing off the tomb, his chains were thrown in with him. After his death, the villagers celebrated at his estate, where his murderers proudly claimed his possessions.

Everything was fine for a couple weeks before strange things started happening to his killers. They began hearing strange noises, like his screams while he was being humiliated or his angry words when he was being spat at. The murder was haunting these men; one by one, they went insane. Lorenzo was the worse – he claimed to have seen his brother’s head in his house, on the most valuable piece of furniture Maximo had, a couch.

The objects the men stole began disappearing without a trace. They started pointing fingers, which led them to take night shifts to monitor their possessions. The men who took watch found themselves next to Maximo’s grave the morning after, with no recollection of how they got there. Incidentally, they would later be found dead in the same spot.

The town was terrified at the unexplained events after Maximo’s murder. They gathered to apologize at his grave in an attempt to put his soul to rest. However, when they arrived, they found the tomb was desecrated, and his limbs were chained together on his torso with the chains that had been buried with him. Lorenzo thought the only way to stop him was to place a cage around the grave. Rumor has it, until this day you can hear him dragging his chains around asking for his prized belongings to be returned to his home. Right before dawn, he returns to his grave, setting the cage back in place every time.

This picture is from the Tomb that is rumored to be Maximo’s. Since it is very old, the Tombstone is now gone and the maintenance people rarely visit this area.

This picture is from the Tomb that is rumored to be Maximo’s. Since it is very old, the Tombstone is now gone and the maintenance people rarely visit this area.

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7 thoughts on “La Tumba Encadenada (Chained Tomb)

  1. I love hearing stories like this! I’d never heard this one before, and it’s always nice to add to my list of scary stories. I find it interesting that even though the cage is supposed to keep him in his grave, he just moves it aside at night and moves it back when returning to his grave. Basically nothing can keep him connected to his grave at all times. It would be cool to know if there were other techniques tried to keep him in his grave at night besides the cage.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I love hearing ghost stories from other cultures and countries. It’s always interesting to compare the things that certain cultures view as scary, and how that relates to what they value in their culture. I don’t know too much about Mexican culture and customs, but it’s always interesting to analyze.

  3. What a great cautionary tale about greed and jealousy! I wonder if there is any significance in Maximo’s limbs being joined together with chains again after he was buried… I’d imagine that he’d want to be free from his captivity. Maybe it was an attempt to make his body whole again? Also, going along with that note, why does he appear to replace the cage that traps him in his grave after wandering around at night? It is as if he is deliberately making sure he stays on this plane to torment those that have tormented him and to make sure he recovers all his belongings before he finds it satisfactory to leave.

  4. This story rings similar bells to Beloved, touching on the restlessness of dead souls, the inescapable consequences of murder, and the ability to be haunted endlessly. Although Beloved was different, since Sethe’s murder was out of love and this one out of hatred and jealousy, they both speak to the danger one takes on when they commit an act of evil, no matter what the intentions are. Taking the live of another away tests boudnaries between life and death, that souls on either side may not be willing to deal with, and hence, seek retribution.

  5. This is a very interesting ghost story! I think stories like this are meant to entertain, but more so, keep people from doing things that are morally wrong because it can come back to haunt you. If my parents told me this ghost story at a young age I would try to avoid being jealous or hurting anyone because you never know when you’ll hear strange sounds and someone will get their revenge on you. Also, it’s much scarier when there is a real tomb because it keeps the story alive. Cemeteries never die.

    • Funny you should say this because we were told this story at a very young age. Besides this story, we heard a variety of stories like this and they all had some kind of moral obligation behind them. I guess you could say these stories were more so for teaching us lessons, whether real or not.

  6. This was amazing to read! It was intriguing to hear a ghost story of another country! The pictures were also super cool to see! This reminds me of a story of my elementary school. There is a nature trail behind my school and at the end of every year the sixth graders clean the trail. As we were cleaning, we stumbled over a gravestone. This was very peculiar to see as this is in the back of an elementary school. We asked our teacher why it was there and she would not give us a direct answer, I assume because we were so young. After that I simply forgot about the gravestone, but a few years ago I went back. I looked up the name and it was of a teacher who used to work there. He committed suicide in the woods that we were cleaning. It was so shocking to find out this information and I understand why my teacher did not tell us this at the time!

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