Researchers at the Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands discovered the remains of a nearly 1,000-year-old mummy inside of an ancient Chinese statue during a CT scan.
“On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha,” the museum said in a press release. “Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100.”
The researchers believe that the remains belong to Buddhist master Liu Quan of the Chinese Meditation School. The monk’s entire body was found inside the golden cast, sitting in lotus position.
It’s speculated that Liu Quan had self-mummified in order to become a “living Buddha”—a gruesome process attempted by only the most devoted Buddhist follower as a path to enlightenment.
The monk’s organs had been removed and replaced with scripts covered in Chinese writing.
Although the statue’s history isn’t known for sure, it was likely housed in a monastery in Southeastern China for centuries before being smuggled out of the country, probably during the Cultural Revolution.
It’s been a good year for mummy finds. Researchers in Mongolia earlier this month found a 200-year-old mummified monk still sitting in the lotus position.