Buddhist mummies

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Luang Pho Daeng, a Thai Buddhist monk who died while meditating in 1973.

Buddhist mummies, also called flesh body bodhisattvas, full body sariras, or living buddhas (Sokushinbutsu) refer to the bodies of Buddhist monks and nuns that remain incorrupt, without any traces of deliberate mummification by another party. Many were destroyed or lost to history.[1] In 2015, the Hungarian Natural History Museum exhibited a Buddhist mummy hidden inside a statue of Buddha, during its first tour outside China.[2]


It is a common method in China. Some covered the bodies with clay or salt. According to Victor H. Mair in the Discovery Channel series The Mystery of the Tibetan Mummy, the self-mummification of a Tibetan monk, who died ca. 1475 and whose body was retrieved relatively incorrupt in the 1990s, was achieved by the sophisticated practices of meditation, coupled with prolonged starvation and slow self-suffocation using a special belt that connected the neck with his knees in a lotus position.[3] Ascetic monks (Sokushinbutsu) in Japan practiced nyūjō (入定), which caused their own death by adhering to a wood-eating diet consisting of salt, nuts, seeds, roots, pine bark, and urushi tea. They were then buried alive in a pine-wood box full of salt connected by a tube for air, and would ring a bell signaling they were alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the air tube would be removed.[4] Japan banned unburying in 1879, and assisted suicide—including religious suicide—is now illegal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Faure, Bernard (1994). The rhetoric of immediacy: a cultural critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-691-02963-6.
  2. ^ "CT Scan Reveals Mummified Monk Inside Ancient Buddha Statue". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. ^ Trekker finds Buddhist Lama mummy in a mountain hideaway in North India.[dead link]
  4. ^ Hori, Ichiro (1962). "Self-Mummified Buddhas in Japan. An Aspect of the Shugen-Dô ("Mountain Asceticism") Sect". History of Religions. 1 (2): 222–242. doi:10.1086/462445. JSTOR 1062053. S2CID 162314904.


  • 内藤正敏 (1999/5/10). ミイラ信仰の研究.(京都)法蔵館. ISBN 978-4-8318-7244-9
  • 日本ミイラ研究グループ (1993). 日本・中国ミイラ信仰の研究. 平凡社. ISBN 4-582-42002-8

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