Mummified Monk Found Inside 1000-Year-Old Buddha Statue

Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands discovered the mummy of a meditating monk inside 1000-year-olds statue of Buddha. Experts believe that the mummy is of Liu Quan, a member of the Chinese Meditation School, who lived around 1100 A.D.

Buddha mummy statue (left) and CT scan image showing mummy inside (right)
Image Credit: Drents Museum

Researchers took the statue to the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort and carried out an endoscopy and additional CT scans. They found that the mummy’s internal organs had apparently been removed and, among a lot of unidentified material, scraps of paper with ancient Chinese characters written in black ink, mentioning the name of the venerable monk: Liuquan.

The Museum is of the view that Liu Quan 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.

Mummified Monk Found Inside 1000-Year-Old Buddha Statue  Mummified Monk Found Inside 1000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reviewed by Vasanth on February 27, 2015 Rating: 5