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Scan Finds Monk Hidden Inside 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue

Historians at a museum in the Netherlands made an unexpected discovery when they began to restore a millennium-old Buddha statue last year – the mummy of a meditating monk. But it wasn’t until after performing further tests that another surprising find was made.

After a CT scan and endoscopic examination at the Meander Medical Centerin the Dutch city of Amersfoort, researchers found that the monk’s internal organs had been removed, reports CNN.

"We thought it would be lung tissue, but instead we found little scraps of paper covered with Chinese characters," said Vincent van Vilsteren, an archeology curator from the museum.

The inscriptions revealed that the monk was called Liuquan who died in China around 1,100 A.D. and may have practiced “self-mummification” to prepare for the afterlife.

This process involves eating a special diet of nuts, berries, tree bark and pine needles, in addition to ingesting a poisonous tea that would make the body too toxic to be eaten by maggots.

Once near death, the monk would sit in an underground chamber in the lotus position, only communicating with the outside world by ringing a bell once a day. Once the ringing stopped, devotees knew the monk had moved on to the afterlife.

Few monks were successful in completing the process and those that did were revered by their followers.

"We suspect that for the first 200 years, the mummy was exposed and worshiped in a Buddhist temple in China... only in the 14th century did they do all the work to transform it into a nice statue," said van Vilsteren.

The statue is now on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest and Vilsteren’s team is waiting on DNA analysis results which may reveal exactly where in China it originated.

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