Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fu Hou (1919-2012) was a highly-respected Buddhist monk who spent most of his life at the Chongfu Temple in China. After his passing at the age of 94, the residents of the temple decided to mummify Hou’s remains with the intention of one day encasing him in a coating of gold leaf to commemorate his unyielding devotion to Buddhism and inspire his disciples and fellow devotees. According to The Associated Press, it is “a practice reserved for holy men in some areas with strong Buddhist traditions.”

Li Ren, the Chongfu Temple’s abbot, recounted the mummification, describing how “the monk’s body was washed, treated by two mummification experts, and sealed inside a large pottery jar in a sitting position.”

Last January, after 3 years of mummification, thousands gathered in the southeastern Chinese city of Quanzhou for the unwrapping of Hou’s body. After carefully removing him from the jar, the material in which he was wrapped was peeled off, revealing his shockingly well-preserved remains. Li Ren described his body as having “little sign of deterioration apart from the skin having dried out.” The wire service reported that “the local Buddhist belief is that only a truly virtuous monk’s body would remain intact after being mummified.”

After the successful curation of his mummified remains, Hou’s body was then sterilized, painted, and gilded with gold leaf. Li Ren said the golden statue “is now being placed on the mountain for people to worship.” Below is a collection of photographs, as well as a video that documents the unwrapping and gilding of Fu Hou.

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