A Buddhist statue exhibited at The Netherlands' Drents Museum has been revealed to be harboring a secret within, housing a mummified monk in its hollows for the last 1,000 years.
Taken to Amersfoort's Meander Medical Center, the statue underwent a full CT scan and had samples taken from inside it. The mummified monk is believed to be Liuquan, a Buddhist master from the Chinese Medidation School. The discovery of the statue is of great cultural importance but it was made even more remarkable with the mummified monk inside.
The results of the CT scan also offered something more curious. Aside from samples yet to be identified, the results also showed paper scraps in spaces where the organs used to be, all inscribed with ancient Chinese characters.
Bone material was also collected from the mummified monk and will be subjected to DNA testing.
Liuquan died around 1100 AD and is thought to be an example of self-mummification, a grueling process undertaken to essentially become a "living Buddha." Though mummification essentially ends life, it is not believed to be death but rather the achievement of a highly advanced state of spirituality. To others, it's a state of higher enlightenment.
Self-mummification begins with a 1,000-day regimen of just eating seeds and nuts with water. This is followed by another 1,000 days of consuming just pine bark, roots and a special Chinese lacquer tree tea, a toxic concoction to prevent bacteria and maggots from festering the body.
After the special diet is completed, a monk will be sealed in a tomb. After another 1,000 days have passed, the tomb will be unsealed. If a monk has achieved mummification, it is taken out and venerated in temples. Those who failed are kept entombed, forever gaining the respect of followers for having attempted self-mummification.
The mummified monk Liuquan and the Buddha statue he calls home will be on display until May at the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
In January, the mummified remains of an unidentified man in a lotus position (a common position for meditating) were discovered in Mongolia. Wrapped in animal skin, the mummy was believed to be about 200 years old, with initial speculation identifying it to be the teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov. A Buryat Buddhist Lama, Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Born in 1852, the Lama was best known for achieving a life-like state after he died by means of meditation.