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The mummy of a mermaid from a Japanese temple turned out to be a clever fake

Added Thu, 09/02/2023
Дата публикации
Thu, 09/02/2023

The "mermaid mummy" from the Enjuin Temple in Okayama Prefecture in Japan is a strange dried–up creature with a fish tail and a human-like head. It is unknown how and when the mysterious "mermaid" got into the temple.

A letter dated 1903 is kept with her. It says that the "unknown animal" got into fishing nets in the area of Kochi Prefecture in 1736-1741.

Similar mummies are found in other Buddhist temples in Japan and are considered sacred.

In Japanese mythology, there is a similar creature – Ningyo. It resembles a fish with a human head. The belief says that Ningyo meat has healing power, and representatives of the temple worshipped the mummy of the "mermaid" in the hope that she could bring believers a long life.

Researchers from the University of Science and Arts of Kurashiki in February 2022, with the permission of the abbot of the temple, began to unravel the secrets of the mummy of an unknown creature.

The mermaid mummy was studied using X-rays, computed tomography, DNA analysis, electron microscope and carbon analysis.

Already on the X-rays, the fins and ridge in the lower part of this strange creature were clearly visible. But there was nothing like a skeleton in the upper part.

As a result, scientists found out that the tail of the "mermaid" belonged to a fish of the gorbylev family, and the upper part of the body consists of cotton wool and paper covered with puffer fish skin. The age of fish scales is about 150 years.

The hair on the mummy's head, as well as the nails on her fingers, were taken from some mammal. Metal needles were also found in the "body" of the mummy, possibly fastening the structure.

All this clearly hints that the "mermaid" was made by a man. Perhaps such models were made for sale under the guise of real "monsters".

Today, 13 similar mummies are known in Japan. They are usually performed in one of two poses – reminiscent of Munch's painting "Scream" and lying on his stomach.

Also, the mummies of Japanese "mermaids" are kept in some European museums, in particular, in the British Museum and the National Museum of Ethnography of the Netherlands.

The "Mermaid" and the temple of Enjuin became the first to be investigated by scientific methods.

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