CT Scan Reveals Mummified Monk Inside Buddha Statue

CT Scan Reveals Mummified Monk Inside Buddha Statue


This was not your ordinary CT scan appointment at Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands.

A very special examination recently revealed a 1,000 year old mummy inside of a Buddha statue via a CT scan analysis and samples with an endoscope.

Erik Bruijn, the leader examiner of this study is an expert in the field of Buddhist art and culture as well as a guest curator at the World Museum in Rotterdam.

Gastrointestinal and hepatic doctor Reinoud Vermeijden plus radiologist Ben Heggelman received their oldest patient yet, the Chinese mummy, at the hospital for internal examination on September 3rd.

The mummy was part of the Mummies exhibition earlier this year titled, “Mummies: Life Beyond Death” at Drents Museum in the Netherlands last year being the first time it had been let out of China. The exhibition had stated that the mummy dated from the 11th or 12th century and was a “possible” case of self-mummification.

What’s been researched is that these monks would typically subsist on water, seeds and nuts for 1,000 days, and then take in roots, pine bark and a toxic tea that was made from the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree for another 1,000 days while they were sealed inside a stone tomb.

They would continue to breathe through a small tube and had a small  bell to ring to let their community know that they were still alive. Once that ringing stopped, they were left inside for another 1,000 days.

The Smithsonian reports that those were mummified were the ones who achieved enlightenment.

The mummified body is of the Buddhist monk Master Liuquan, who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School, and died in China around 1,100 A.D.

This one of a kind discovery is the only Chinese Buddhist mummy that is available for scientific research in the West. With a unique endoscope made available by Surgical Technologies in Didam, Dr. Vermeijden was able to take samples of a yet unidentified material and examined the thoracic and abdominal cavities.

What he found was amazing.

Amongst all kinds of rotten material in the space where there had once been organs, he found paper scraps printed with ancient Chinese characters. Dr. Heggelman took a CT scan that intricately shows how the mummy looks inside and took samples of bone material for DNA testing.

This finding of organ removal and paper scraps makes it unclear for whether or not Liuquan self-mummified.

As we await further analysis of what these papers say and for the results of this mummy’s medical exam, we know that the research on Master Liuquan will soon be published in a monograph.

Until then, the ancient monk has been taken to Hungary where his mummy will be on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest until May 2015.




Photo credit: 

Drents Museum: http://www.drentsmuseum.nl/website-english/home.html