CT Scan Detects Mummified Monk Inside Buddhist Statue

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Buddhist monks and devotees pay their respects in front of a Mahamuni Buddha statue during a visit by Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar, February 14, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

At the Meander Medical Centre in The Netherlands, a CT scan as well as an endoscopy, which was part of a study led by a Buddhism art expert named Erik Bruijn, showed that there were mummified remains of a monk inside a Buddhist statue. The statue dated back to either the 11th or the 12th century and was exhibited at the Drents Museum in The Netherlands. 

According to Daily Mail, before the CT scan took place, the researchers were aware that there was a mummy inside the statue. But the researchers did not know that the organs of the monk had been removed from the body until the scan.

Paper scraps that were covered with writings in Chinese were also discovered in the place of the organs. In addition, a material was found in the thoracic and abdominal cavities whose samples had been sent for testing. 

After the scan was completed, the mummy was put in display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest. It would remain there until May 2015. 

Bruijn thought that the mummy was of Liuquan, a Buddhist master who was a part of the Chinese Meditation School and died around 1100 AD. He led the study to determine if the mummy was of Liuquan. A lot of Buddhists believed that mummies such as Liuquan weren't dead but were in a state of meditation which was advanced or a state of higher enlightenment. 

The team of researchers believed that the mummy could be an example of self-mummification which was working towards becoming a "living Buddha." A living Buddha is a process that called for a life of extreme austerity. 

Monks who were seeking self-mummification in Japan would usually have a 1,000-day diet of water, seeds and nuts, and it was followed by a 1,000-day diet of pine bark, roots and a special tea that was made from the Chinese lacquer tree. It was then followed by the monk sealed in a tomb and then 1,000 days after the death of monk, the tomb would be unsealed. 

In January, a mummified monk was unearthed in Mongolia. It was speculated that the remains of the man was in meditation in the lotus position and that it could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It was also speculated that it was about 200 years old, preserved in animal skin. 

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