Green Burials, Ancient Chinese Style: Buddha Statue Holds Mummified Remains of Monk

A Chinese Buddha statue that dates from approximately the 11th or 12th century was found to have a mummified monk inside of it as well as even older pieces of rolled textile carpet, covered in Chinese text.  (Story from LiveScience.com)

The Buddha statue itself is made of gold-plated papier-mâché and, according to the carbon dating performed on it, was created around the eleventh or twelfth century. The monk inside of the statue may have performed self-mummification, wherein he slowly starved himself to death in a way that would promote mummification and reduce decay.  His body was then placed in a lotus position inside of the statue.

It’s interesting that we think of this as a mummified monk who was surprisingly found inside of a Buddha statue, rather than viewing the statue itself as a part of the mummification.  Here is the CT scan of the mummy:

Given that the Buddha statue seems to have so precisely matched the contours of the monk’s remains, it appears to be an artistic, elaborate coffin, rather than a statue that just happens to have a corpse hidden inside of it.  (Just bear in mind that my study of the classics was limited to Greece, Rome, and a smidge of Egypt, and ended sometime around 400 AD.)

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