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China certain 'mummy Buddha' was stolen one

( Xinhua )

Updated: 2015-03-25

BEIJING - New evidence supports the theory that a 1,000-year-old Buddha statue with a mummified monk inside, now owned by a Dutch private collector, was stolen from China, a government official said Tuesday.

Jin Ruiguo, an official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), said in a statement that based on photos, local archives and witness statements, SACH can confirm that this Buddha statue was stolen from a temple in Yangchun village in east China's Fujian Province in 1995.

The SACH is gathering more evidence and working with other departments to secure the statue's return, Jin said.

The statue attracted attention after a CT scan last year found it contained a mummy of a 12th century Buddhist monk. The monk is sat on a pillow that is around 300 years older.

Chinese characters are written on the side of the pillow, which say the monk's name was Zhang Liuquan.

The Buddha statue was included in a "Mummy World" exhibition at the Hungarian Natural History Museum, which opened in October last year, it was originally scheduled to be on display until May 17.

The Hungarian Natural History Museum borrowed the statue from the Drents Museum in Assen, the Netherlands. On Friday, the Dutch owner withdrew the statue from exhibition without any explanation.

According to Yangchun archives, a monk, living in the village in Song Dynasty (960-1279), helped cure people with his knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine. When he died, his body was mummified and local people made a statue to hold his body. The statue was an icon of worship.

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