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DNA testing •

Research scientists from the Netherlands-based Drents Museum had an 11th or 12th century Buddhist statue imaged and found that it had the mummy of a monk hidden inside. Scientists detected a human skeleton that was glowing through the silhouette of the statue, on the computed tomography scan performed at the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

The mummified body of the monk is folded into the same position, fitting the inside of the statue perfectly. Scientists also had samples taken with an endoscope, under the close supervision of the Buddhist art expert, Erik Brujin.

As far as the mummy is concerned, it is believed to belong to a Buddhist master, supposedly named Liuquan, who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School. The master is believed to have died around 1100 AD.

Thanks to the endoscopy, some other strange facts had been revealed, such as a material yet unidentified, which had been taken out from the thoracic and abdominal cavities of the mummy. Moreover another spectacular thing was discovered: it appears that inside the spaces meant to be occupied by organs, the research team found pieces of paper with ancient Chinese characters written on them.

The research team  is of the opinion that the mummy was due to “self-mummification.” This process is supposedly used in order to become “a living Buddha” and also in order to to achieve one of the highest levels of enlightenment.

The “oldest patient ever,” as doctor Reinoud Vermeijden along with radiologist Ben Heggelman like to call the mummy is repeatedly examined by these experts in their spare time. For instance bone fragments belonging to the mummy have also been extracted to be used for further DNA testing. The results will be published in a monograph that will focus on Master Liuquan alone at a later date.

The world famous statue, which contains the mummy, was taken to examinations from the Drent Museum in Assen, where it had been on display. Right now it is on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest, and by May of 2015, it will be off to Luxembourg.

Monks wanting to practice self-mummification had to begin a 1,000-day diet of water, nuts and seeds, continued by a 1,000-day diet of pine bark and roots, along with a tea made from the sap of a Chinese lacquer tree, that has this toxic substance that’s usually used in order to lacquer the bowls and the plates used by monks when repelling maggots and bacteria. The monks would then be sealed inside a stone tomb and awaited self-indulged death.

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