Mummified statues among 14 new national treasures

Friday, 2016-12-23 11:15:11
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The mummified body of Zen master Vu Khac Minh
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NDO - Another 14 artefacts and groups of artefacts have been recognised as national treasures, including the mummified statues of 17th century Zen masters Vu Khac Minh and Vu Khac Truong.

The two statues are currently being held at a Buddhist temple in Thuong Tin district in southern Hanoi.

Research suggests the bodies of the two monks had a thick layer of a special mixture applied to keep the bodies in their original form, which were later applied with several more layers of Vietnamese paints to prevent them from deteriorating.

Nguyen Lan Cuong, an archaeologist, said that an X-ray of Vu Khac Minh showed his skull had not been chiselled, suggesting that his brain was not pulled out to replace it with stuffing, as usually seen in Egyptian mummification.

In addition, researchers found no materials such as adhesives, strings or frames to fix and support the bones, which remained in their original positions.

Cuong later found a similar mummification process can also be seen in Huineng, the sixth patriarch of Chinese Zen Buddhism.

According to official historical records, other Vietnamese Zen masters including Tu Dao Hanh, Nguyen Minh Khong and Giac Hai also had their bodies preserved in the same way after their death but their mummies no longer exist due to vanishing in war.

Another notable national treasure in this batch of recognition is Huyen Thien Tran Vu, a 3-metre high and 4-tonne bronze statue at Quan Thanh Temple near West Lake in Hanoi.

The statue was cast in 1677, featuring a Taoist god with a square face, a long beard and his hair untied, sitting on a stone platform with his right hand holding a sword surrounded by a snake and supported by a tortoise.

The bronze statue at Quan Thanh Temple

The other artefacts include:

  • A linga-yoni statue erected in the 5th-6th century, currently kept at Tra Vinh Museum
  • Two Tra Lien reliefs carved in the 9th century, currently stored at Quang Tri Museum.
  • A Brahma relief carved in the 12th-13th century, currently kept at Binh Dinh Museum.
  • A flower-patterned jar created during the Tran Dynasty, currently on display at the National History Museum.
  • Thanh Mai Vien Thong Stele erected in 1362, currently kept at Thanh Mai Temple in Hai Duong province.
  • Le Thai To Stele, erected in 1431 and currently being kept at a shrine dedicated to the founder of the Later Ly Dynasty in Lai Chau province.
  • Dai Viet Lam Son Chieu Lang Stele, erected in late 15th century and currently located at Lam Kinh Historical Site in Thanh Hoa province.
  • Two bells at Da Quan Temple in Cao Bang province, cast in 1611.
  • A nine-storied lotus pagoda at Dong Ngo Temple in Hai Duong province, created in 1692.
  • A Nguyen Lord golden seal, created in 1709 and currently kept at the National History Museum.
  • A collection of decrees by the President Ho Chi Minh from August 30, 1945 to February 28, 1946