Mummified Monk Sits Inside Ancient Buddha Statue
Sitting in the lotus position, the 1,000-year-old mummy fits within the statue perfectly.
Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands made a shocking discovery when they imaged an ancient Chinese statue and found a nearly 1,000-year-old mummy inside.
Sitting in the lotus position, the mummy fits within the statue perfectly.
"On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha," the museum said in a release. "Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100."
Glowing through the statue's golden cast, the human skeleton is believed to belong to Buddhist master Liuquan, a member of the Chinese Meditation School.
To further investigate the mummy, the researchers took the statue to the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort and carried out an endoscopy and additional CT scans.
They found out that Liuquan's internal organs had been removed.
"The mummified body hidden inside the buddhist statue is sitting on a roll of cloth," Buddhism expert Erik Bruijn told Discovery News. "On this cloth are Chinese characters written in black ink, mentioning the name of the venerable monk: Liuquan," he added.
According to Bruijn, the name means "Six Perfections."
"It refers to the virtues perfected by a being who seeks buddhahood through the systematic practice of the six perfect virtues but renounces complete entry into nirvana until all beings are saved," Bruijn said.
The museum speculates Liu Quan Liuquan may have "self-mummified" in order to become a "living Buddha."
Practiced mainly in Japan, self-mummification was a grueling process that required a monk to follow a strict 1,000-day diet of nuts and seeds in order to strip the body of fat. A diet of bark and roots would follow for another 1,000 days.
At the end of this period, the monk began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Japanese varnish tree, normally used to lacquer bowls and plates. The tea caused profuse vomiting as well as a rapid loss of bodily fluids, possibly making the body too poisonous to be eaten by bacteria and insects.
A living skeleton, the monk was then placed in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, which was equipped with an air tube and a bell.
Never moving from the lotus position, the monk would ring the bell each day to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the monk was presumed dead, the air tube removed and the tomb sealed.
After another 1,000 days the tomb would be opened to check whether the monk had been successfully mummified. Of the hundreds of monks that tried this horrifying process, only a few dozen actually became self-mummified and venerated in temples as a Buddha.
Researchers aren't certain when or how this monk's organs were then removed.
The Buddha statue is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest. It will remain there until May.
Image: A scan reveals the body of a nearly 1,000-year-old Buddhist monk inside the statue of Buddha. Credit: Drents Museum.
Russian archaeologists have resumed excavations in a remote site near the Arctic Circle in the attempt to solve the mystery of mysterious medieval mummies clad in copper masks.
Overall, the archaeologists found 34 shallow graves with seven male adults, three male infants, and one female child, roughly 1,000 years old. Buried with a hoard of artifacts, some of the bodies had shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons.
This is one of the three copper masked infant male mummies found at the site. Each mummy was bound in four or five copper hoops two inches wide.
Five mummies were unearthed still shrouded in copper and blankets of reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur.
This is a mummified hand of a child. Among the graves, the archaeologists found only one female child wearing a copper mask.
The artifacts discovered near the copper clad mummies included an iron combat knife, bracelets, silver medallions and bronze figurines. The archaeologists also found bowls originating in Persia, some 3,700 miles to the southwest, dating from the 10th or 11th centuries. The finding suggests that around one millennium ago Siberia was not a remote and inhospitable site but an important trading crossroad.
The archaeologists admitted the graves feature burial rites they had never seen before. They hope to solve the riddle on the mysterious people by carrying further excavations and genetic tests. Get the