Dutch collector: Mummified Buddha will return to China

( ) Updated: 2015-05-08 17:46:29

Dutch collector: Mummified Buddha will return to China

A CT scan showed a body, with the internal organs removed, concealed in an ancient Chinese statue of a Buddha. [Photos provided by the Drents Museum]

Through a social network, Dutch private collector Oscar van Overeem, who owns the 1,000-year-old Buddha statue with a mummified monk inside, said recently he is willing to return the relic to China.

According to The New York Times, van Overeem, an architect, last month publicly acknowledged for the first time on the networking site LinkedIn that he owned the mummified Buddha. He bought the statue for 40,000 Dutch guilders ($20,544) in 1996 from a collector in Amsterdam who had acquired it in Hong Kong.

Via LinkedIn, van Overeem said that he had reached a tentative agreement to donate the mummy to "a major Buddhist temple" near Yangchun village in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, where the statute was likely to be the personification of Patriarch Zhanggong, who practiced self-mummification in the village during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

An unidentified foundation will offer him some compensation for what he has invested in the statue and in researching its history, he said.

Patriarch Zhanggong was a monk named Zhang Qisan who was known as a benevolent healer. He was worshiped as an ancestor by villagers in Yangchun village.

In Beijing News' interview via LinkedIn, van Overeem only said "I don't want to say a lot. There are negotiations on the way."

Van Overeem added that he was letting go of the statue because he believed it deserved to return to its homeland “to be incorporated in truly Buddhist surroundings” and worshiped “by those who love and appreciate him.”

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