Mummified Buddhist Monk Gets Covered in Pure Gold

Workers apply gold leaf to the mummy of the Buddhist monk Fu Hou. Photoshot
Workers apply gold leaf to the mummy of the Buddhist monk Fu Hou. Photoshot

A Buddhist temple in China has covered the mummified remains of a monk in pure gold.

The monk, named Fu Hou, died in 2012 at age of 94, the Associated Press reports. His body was placed into a cylindrical ceramic vat for almost four years, during which time it experienced minimal decomposition, primarily losing moisture.


When monks opened the vat during a ceremony at a temple on Southern China's Zimao Mountain, they discovered Fu Hou's remains still in the meditation position. They were put on display before undergoing a gilding process.

According to local beliefs — Buddhism, like other world religions, varies regionally and culturally in its character and expression — the condition of an intact mummified body like that of Fu Hou's indicates a life lived in true virtue. He began practicing Buddhism in his teens and lived most of his life at the monastery on the mountain near the city of Quanzhou.

Why preserve a mummy in gold? Wouldn't something so flashy run counter to the ascetic life of meditation Fu Hou lived? The goal, according to the temple, is to inspire more to follow the same path of devotion as Fu Hou.

"Monk Fu Hou is now being placed on the mountain for people to worship," the monastery's abbot Li Ren told The Telegraph.

How does one go about turning human remains into a statue? After cleaning the mummy, two craftsmen covered it with gauze, putty, lacquer and then pure gold leaf — imagine a process similar to that of applying a cast to a broken limb, and extend that to an entire body — then dressed it in traditional robes. 

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Fu Hou's gilded mummy displayed before being dressed in robes and placed within a protective glass enclosure.