The statue has recently made headlines due to the discovery of a mummified monk on the inside, which has since been examined by scientists and is thought to be 1,000 years old. Purchased in 1996 by a private owner in Holland, the grisly contents on the inside were initially unknown and were only discovered at a later date. Made out of gold-painted papier-mâché, the statue was restored in the Netherlands following its purchase that year.
Since being displayed in Assen in Holland, experts decided to conduct a more thorough investigation into the hidden mummy seated in a lotus position, which involved a CT scan and endoscopy. Upon examination, the scientists discovered small pieces of white paper inside the body, which were decorated with Chinese writing.
The first Chinese Buddhist mummy to undergo scientific research in the West
This has led the scientists to believe that the mummy had been previously worshipped in a temple and was only turned into a statue in the 14th century. It is thought that the mummy was a Buddhist master named Liuquan from the Chinese Meditation School, with suggestions that the body may be an example of self-mummification.
This is an excruciating process, which some monks undertook in order to find enlightenment and veneration, and involved meditation, starvation and dehydration. It would take approximately six years and following successful completion would mean that the monk received the high status of a Buddha, meaning that his mummified body would be placed in a tomb, where it would be respected for endurance.
Those visiting Budapest on Danube river cruises can view the fascinating statue at the Hungarian Natural History Museum until early May, when it will then travel to Luxembourg for another exhibition.
Image Credit: Matt Westgate (Flickr.com)