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Scientists have found the remains of the only Chinese Buddhist mummy available for study – found inside a statue.

The 1000-year old mummy was discovered when a CT scan revealed the body of the Buddhist master Liu Quan. The find occurred after the owner decided to have the statue restored, leading to the removal of pillows from below the statue’s knees revealing human remains. History of Art applicants might be interested to read how restorations have revealed nuances in art perhaps less shocking than that of a mummified body.

Curiously, the body is not entirely human – investigation has found that where lung tissue should be, there were papers printed with ancient Chinese characters. This supports the scientists’ theory that the monk became a statue thousands of years after his death, and between 1000-1400AD the mummy was a relic of worship. His death occurred due to a process of Sokushinbutsu, or self-mummification, as the monk tried to emulate the Buddha through ascetic practices of starvation and constant meditation. Theologians should read more about how ascetic practices are a foundation for many religious practices.

Archaeology & Anthropology and History applicants should read further on the veneration of the dead in ritual in cases similar to this.

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