Ex­pert sheds light on mum­mi­fied monk found in Bud­dha statue

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUO WANG­SHU in Bei­jing lu­owang­shu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The rea­son the mum­mi­fied re­mains of a monk found en­cased in a Bud­dha statue have re­ceived so much at­ten­tion and even caused sur­prise may be due to a lack of un­der­stand­ing of Bud­dhism, ac­cord­ing to a Chi­nese ex­pert.

The re­mains, mi­nus or­gans, were found in a statue dat­ing to the 11th or 12th cen­tury.

The fact the or­gans were miss­ing is noth­ing out of the or­di­nary, ac­cord­ing to Mas­ter Zengqin, vicechair­man of the China Bud­dhism As­so­ci­a­tion and ab­bot of Da Ci’en Tem­ple in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince.

Bri­tain’s Daily Mail news­pa­per said Erik Bruijn, a Bud­dhism ex­pert, led the study that determined the mummy was of Bud­dhist mas­ter Li­uquan, from the Chi­nese Med­i­ta­tion School.

A CT scan and en­doscopy on the re­mains were car­ried out by the Drents Mu­seum at Me­an­der Med­i­cal Cen­tre in the Nether­lands.

Mas­ter Zengqin said that when monks who have made great achieve­ments are about to die, they stop eat­ing and drink­ing to de­plete their or­gans.

“The re­mains will mum­mify — as op­posed to be­ing re­moved by hu­mans,” said the head of the tem­ple where Mas­ter Xuan­zang (599-664 AD) trans­lated Bud­dhist clas­sics he brought from In­dia.

Af­ter the scan, the re­mains were taken to Bu­dapest, where they are on dis­play at the Hungarian Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum un­til May be­fore be­ing taken to Lux­em­bourg and then the Drents Mu­seum.

Mas­ter Zengqin said that monks with great achieve­ments can usu­ally sense their deaths and will start ad­vanced med­i­ta­tion in the lo­tus po­si­tion, while re­frain­ing from eat­ing or drink­ing.

Af­ter a monk dies, he is buried sit­ting in the lo­tus po­si­tion in a clay ves­sel. The pre­served body is dec­o­rated with paint and adorned with gold.

“There are many Bud­dhist mum­mies in China, such as at Mount Ji­uhua,” he said, re­fer­ring to the peak in An­hui prov­ince.

Hav­ing read the story and seen ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­to­graphs, Mas­ter Zengqin said the face of Li­uquan’s mum­mi­fied re­mains might have been painted.

“No chem­i­cals have ever been used to pre­serve monks’ re­mains,” he said.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED BY THE DRENTS MU­SEUM

The mum­mi­fied re­mains

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