Chinese relic experts believe that the “living Buddha” statue which had recently been on display at a history museum in Budapest was stolen from China in 1995.
The Fujian Cultural Relic Bureau announced on March 22 that based on research, photos, historical records and media reports, experts were able to confirm that the statue on exhibition at the Hungarian Natural History Museum was a relic stolen from Yangchun Village of Fujian 20 years ago.
The Buddha was believed to be Zhanggong Zushi, a cowherd. When he grew older, he won fame for helping treat people’s diseases for free. He became a monk and self-mummified sometime around China’s Song Dynasty (960-1279). The statue had been worshipped at the village temple until it allegedly went missing in 1995.
The village provided three points to support its claim, China Daily relays:
First, according to the villagers, the statue on exhibition in Europe is very similar in appearance to the photo of the village’s statue of Master Zhanggong Liuquan (or Zhanggong Zushi) that was stolen in 1995.
Second, the scan by the Netherlands’ scientists show the Buddhist’s remains dating to the 11th or 12th century, which matches the periods of Zhanggong Liuquan’s self-mummification of occurred during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The statue was bought and sold again to a Dutch private collector in 1996, one year after the village’s mummified statue went missing. The timing of the two instances might be more than coincidence.
A local bureau spokesman said they will continue the investigation in the village and search for more information to eventually trace the stolen relic in compliance with normal procedures.
By Lucy Liu
[Image via Xinhua // China Daily]
[Video via BTV ]