There was a hidden surprise for the scientists in an ancient Chinese statue of a sitting Buddha. The scientists have uncovered the mummified remains of a monk who is expected to have lived approximately 1,000 years ago.
The Buddha statue was exhibited at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands in 2014. The statue was later sent to Amersfoort-based Meander Medical Centre, where the researchers carried its complete CT scan. According to the researchers, the samples for the CT scan were collected with an endoscope under the guidance of an expert of Buddhist arts form, Erik Brujin.
Vincent van Vilsteren, an archaeology curator at Drents Museum, said the study reveals that the mummy found inside the statue may have once been a religious and respected Buddhist monk, who was worshipped by his followers after his death as an enlightened being and messenger of Lord Buddha.
The mystery behind the gold-painted Chinese statue was first unfolded by the preservationists who started the restoration of the statue several years ago. However, the disclosure about the human remains and its in-depth study were done only recently after the researchers took out the CT scans and gathered samples of tissue from the mummy last year.
According to the team, the Chinese mummy may offer a good example of self-mummification. They believe the self-mummification must had been carried for the sake of becoming a “living Buddha”, an arduous process that involved a life of extreme austerity.
It is also believed by many that the process of mummification is not death, but a method to reach the highly advanced spiritual state to become an enlightened one.
The mysterious papier-mâché statue has been presently put on display at Budapest’s Hungarian Natural History Museum.
The statue features a seated person and is enveloped in gold and lacquer paint. Researchers believe the statue of a Buddhist master, named Liuquan, of the Chinese Meditation School, was likely housed in a Southeastern China monastery for centuries. The mummified Buddhist monk is expected to have died around 1100 AD.
Scientists believe the statues may have been smuggled from the Chinese monastery during the Cultural Revolution.