Beijing, Mar 22: A gold-painted statue of a sitting Buddha in the Netherlands that concealed a mummified Monk's body, is suspected of being stolen from a village in east China's Fujian province in 1995.
The statue, about 1.2 meters tall, began touring from the Drents Museum in the Netherlands in February and is now on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest. It is expected to go to Luxembourg for an exhibition in May.
A medical scan had found that a gold-painted statue of a sitting Buddha hides mummified remains of a high-status monk who lived nearly 1,000 years ago.
Researchers also found scraps of paper written in Chinese inside the abdominal cavity of the body through endoscopy.
As the news spread across China, people in Yangchun village in Fujian suspected that statute was the personification of Zhanggong Liuquan, who practiced self-mummifications in the village during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), state-run China Daily reported.
To back their claims villagers said the statue on exhibition in Europe is very similar in appearance to the photo of the village's statue of Master Zhanggong Liuquan that was stolen in 1995. It may have been smuggled from the country and was bought and sold in the Netherlands.
In 1996, a private owner decided to have someone fix the chips and cracks that marred the gold-painted exterior.
The scan by the Netherlands' scientists showed the Buddhist's remains dates back to the 11th or 12th century, which matches the periods of Zhanggong Liuquan's self-mummification that occurred during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it said.
The Fujian cultural relics authorities have sent archaeological experts to the village to collect materials to further validate the villagers' claim.
"We will consider using legal ways to retrieve the Buddhist statue if evidence shows it was stolen from the village," Wang Yongping, an official with the local antique connoisseur authorities was quoted as saying to the Daily.
Prominent Buddhist monks usually practiced self-mummification when they feel they are about to die. They stopped eating and drinking to deplete their organs in the periods until death.
After a monk dies, he is buried sitting in the lotus position in a clay vessel. The preserved body is decorated with paint and adorned with gold.