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A Mummified Monk Was Hidden Inside A Buddha Statue For 1,000 Years

Hopefully researchers didn't disturb his meditative state.

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Jan van Esch / Meander Medisch Centrum / Via

Preservationists first discovered the mummified body in 1996 during restoration on the gold-painted papier-mâché statue. Workers removed the statue's wooden platform to find two pillows, and beneath those were human remains.

It wasn't until December 2014 that a team of Dutch doctors and historians used detailed X-rays to decipher the statue's hidden contents.

Jan van Esch / Meander Medisch Centrum / Via

Researchers also took samples and found that among the decayed remains were scraps of paper containing ancient Chinese characters.

The text suggests the mummy was once a high-status monk — specifically, Buddhist master Liu Quan, who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School until his death at around 1100 AD.

The grueling practice entailed a monk eating only nuts and seeds for 1,000 days, followed by a diet of bark and roots for another 1,000 days, in order to lose all body fat.

Luang Pho Dang, Wat Khunaram, Ko Samui, Thailand / Via Sachie Yorck

A tiny tube gave the monk oxygen from outside, while a string attached to a bell would let the monk tell others he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tomb was sealed off for the final 1,000 days.

If, by the end of this process, the tomb was opened and a preserved body was found, the monk would be revered as Buddha. However, if the body decomposed, the monk would be respected, but not worshipped.

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