Investigators from the Fujian Administration of Cultural Heritage have announced that they believe a 1,000-year-old Buddhist statue containing a mummified monk that is currently on display in Hungary at the Hungarian Natural History Museum was stolen from a village in China.

Xinhua News Agency reports that although the statue was the centerpiece for the “Mummy World” exhibition that will go on until May 17, its Dutch owner retrieved the statue last Friday. A shipping company took it back to the Drents Museum in the Netherlands, without any reason. As of today, the Netherlands has not signed the 1995 Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. 

The statue dates from China’s Song Dynasty, and the façade, decoration, and written words on the statue itself are very similar to a statue stolen from an ancestral temple in Yangchun, Fujian, villagers claim. Investigations based on photographic evidence and genealogy records support the villagers’ case which has been building gradually.

A CT scan done at the Meander Medical Center in Amsterdam last year found that there was a mummy of a 30-to-40-year-old Buddhist monk inside the statue, who was believed to have lived around 1100AD. The pillow that the monk sits on dates to 300 years later.

The fact that there was a mummy inside the statue was only discovered in December of last year. According to a local Dutch newspaper scrolls of text were found in place of the monk's right lung, and samples were taken for DNA testing, but Discovery News announced that the statue is that of Liuquan who, according to legend, mummified himself.

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