Monks Who Mummified Themselves

Monks Who Mummified Themselves

Monks who practiced sokushinbutsu sought transcendence through self-mummification. Their 3,000-day training process mandated a strict diet of foods such as nuts, berries, tree bark, and resin. Some monks also drank a sap that was traditionally used to make lacquer, and that may have helped to embalm the body from the inside out. Once the monk was ready, he would step into a small burial chamber that had an airway and a bell. He would ring the bell each day to let those on the outside know he was still alive. Once the bell stopped ringing, the airway was sealed.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    To achieve self-mummification, monks first ate a restricted diet of nuts and seeds. (0:21)

  • 2

    Self-mummifying monks would often drink a sap from the Urushi tree, which may have functioned as a preservative for the body. (0:30)

  • 3

    After being sealed in a burial chamber, self-mummifying monks would ring a bell each day to let others know they were still alive. (0:44)

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