Priceless relics often undergo a thorough examination to verify their efficacy, and during the process the items are handled with the utmost care. Any work of art that’s survived over a hundred years is not only a sight to behold, but a true treasure. That being said, you can only imagine the sort of attention this 1000-year-old statue of Buddha garnered, especially when they discovered what was inside.
While on exhibit at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands, a Chinese statue of Buddha, which dates back to 1100 AD, was subjected to a CT scan and examined with an endoscope. Encased within the ancient statue was in fact the mummified body of a monk. These remains are believed to belong to a Buddhist master at the Chinese Meditation School, named Liuquan, according to a story by CNET. Liuquan is believed to have died around 1100 AD.
Further examination showed that in place of his vital organs were scraps of paper with “ancient Chinese characters” on them, added the CNET story. While the mummy is believed to be the first of his kind, the process of buddhist monks mummifying themselves is not unheard of. Sokushinbutsu is a practice observed by Shingon Buddhists in Northern Japan. Sokushinbutsu is described as “observing austerity to the point of death and mummification” according to Japan Reference. However, this process differs from Liuquan’s in that Liuquan is the first of his kind believed to have been encased inside of a statue.