Drents Museum

A 1,000-Year-Old Mummified Monk Was Discovered Inside A Buddha Statue

Dutch lab workers have found the full body of an 1,000-year-old monk inside a Chinese statue.

The corpse was discovered at the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, according to CNET, and is, to date, the only one to be found in such a container.

He sits in the exact same meditative position as the statue.

Pieces of paper covered with ancient Chinese writing were found inside the spaces where his organs used to be.

Researchers believe the body to be that of Buddhist master Liu Quan, who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School and died around the year 1100 AD.

Mummification was long ago viewed as a path to spiritual enlightenment, and some Buddhist monks would undergo what is known as self-mummification to reach this state.

This begins with 1,000 days of consuming nothing but water, seeds and nuts, and then another 1,000-day diet of only roots and pine bark.

Toward the end of the second diet, the monk drinks the Japanese varnish tree's poisonous sap.

This causes vomiting and drains the body of fluids, the point of which may have been to prevent insects from eating the remains, Discovery News reports.

The monk was then locked in a stone tomb just big enough to fit his body along with an air tube and a bell. He would ring this bell every day to signify he was alive.

When it stopped ringing, a thousand days would pass before the tomb was opened.

Hundreds of monks partook in this, but only a few dozen were able to become the human statues they set out to be.

Those who had transformed into "living Buddhas" were preserved in temples while the failed attempts remained in their tombs, revered for their honorable intentions.

This process, however, was not known to involve any sort of organ removal that comes with traditional mummification, so why this monk had paper in place of organs remains unknown.

The statue was previously on display at the Netherlands' Drents Museum and has since been moved to the Hungarian Natural History Museum, where it will remain until this May.

Citations: CT scan finds mummified monk inside 1 000 year old Buddha (CNET), Mummified Monk Sits Inside Ancient Buddha Statue (DIscovery News)