A Buddha statue dating back to the 11th or 12th century was examined by CT scan and endoscopy in the Netherlands late last year, revealing that it encapsulated the mummified remains of the Buddhist Master Liuquan. It is believed in some Buddhist traditions that the bodies of masters may remain relatively untouched by the decay of ordinary people, as the masters have attained a higher state of being.
The examinations were conducted at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort by the Drents Museum, where the statue was on display. In place of some of the internal organs, researchers found papers marked with ancient Chinese script among other rotted material.
The find is unique. In the East, ancient monks often went through a process of self-mummification, leaving them eternally in a meditation position. These mummies are treated with great reverence, and some believe that the monks may be in a state of deep meditation rather than dead. To find such a mummy inside a statue in the West as in this case—and to be able to study it with modern technology—is unusual. Samples have been taken for DNA testing as well.
The statue is now on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest, where it will stay till May 2015, at which time it will move to a museum in Luxembourg.