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Screaming 'Mermaid Mummy' Worshipped For Centuries Believed To Be Half Monkey, Half Fish
The worshipped 'mermaid' could be half monkey, half fish (Image: Credit: 2021 Kinoshita Hiroshi via Pen News)
November 25th, 2022 | 13:41 PM | 178 views
Scientists are still waiting to discover the origins of a “mermaid” mummy that has been worshipped and prayed to for hundreds of years.
Researchers have set about uncovering the mystery behind the 30cm creature — smaller than a newborn baby — that ended up finding its way to a Japanese temple.
The scary looking 300-year-old mummy appears to be frozen in a scream while holding its hands to its mouth.
The mummy has scales on the lower body, with Live Science reporting its hair and nails reportedly come from a human.
Believers are said to have eaten the scales from mummified “mermaids” in the hope of achieving immortality.
Experts, however, are less enamoured with the tales surrounding the “mermaid”.
Researchers from the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts have taken the mummy for CT scanning in a bid to unravel its mysteries.
Hiroshi Kinoshita, the Okayama Folklore Society member who instigated the study, said he believes the beast was manufactured specifically for the purpose of selling it.
The creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean, off the Japanese island of Shikoku, between 1736 and 1741, and is now kept in a temple in the city of Asakuchi.
But Mr Kinoshita’s theory is that it was likely created at some point during the Edo period, an era of Japanese history stretching from 1603 to 1867.
The most likely explanation for the 55-year-old was that producers had sewn the top half of a monkey to the tail of a fish to create the mermaid look.
“Of course, I don't think it's a real mermaid,” he said.
“I think this was made for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for spectacles in Japan.”
Kinoshita added: “I think it is made from living animals and we would like to identify them by CT scans or DNA testing.
“It looks like a fish with scales on the lower body and a primate with hands and a face on the upper body.”
The team behind the investigation has yet to announce the results, but they were expected to be ready by the end of 2022.
History shows that there is precedent for such a fabrication.
P.T. Barnum, whose life inspired the 2017 blockbuster The Greatest Showman, exhibited a similar specimen at his American Museum in New York before it burned down in 1865.
This mummy, created from the torso and head of an orangutan sewn onto the back half of a salmon, was purportedly caught off the coast of Fiji and later purchased from Japanese sailors.
In Japanese folklore, there exists a creature called the ningyo, which is described as having a monkey’s mouth with fish-like teeth and a body covered in golden scales.
According to Kinoshita, there is a legend that a woman accidentally ate the flesh of a mermaid and lived for 800 years, with believers replicating the act throughout Japanese history.
Despite many being sceptical about its veracity, the chief priest at the temple, Kozen Kuida, says followers have continued to pray to the fish-like creature.
It was put on display in a glass case some 40 years ago and is now kept in a fireproof safe.
Mr Kuida told The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper: “We have worshipped it, hoping that it would help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic even if only slightly.”
Folklore also suggests appearances of mermaids represented an ominous warning that an infectious disease was about to breakout.
The test being performed on the "mermaid" hope to determine its DNA and also what materials were used to preserve it, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
A historic carefully-folded letter dated to 1903 – apparently penned by a former owner – was stored alongside the mummy and gives a story about its provenance.
“A mermaid was caught in a fish-catching net in the sea off Kochi Prefecture,” the letter states.
“The fishermen who caught it did not know it was a mermaid, but took it to Osaka and sold it as unusual fish.
“My ancestors bought it and kept it as a family treasure.”
It is unclear how or when the mummy came to Enjuin temple in Asakuchi.
courtesy of MIRROR
by Patrick Daly
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