Shi Cihang 航慈釋. The First Case of Mummified Buddhist in Taiwan
Shi Cihang 航慈釋 (1895-1954), is one of the eminent figures in the so-called Modern Buddhism in Taiwan. Engaged in improving education and training of Buddhist monks and nuns, and promoter of the so-called renjian fojiao 教佛間人 (Buddhism for the Human Realm), which refuses any sort of superstitious understanding and practice of Buddhism and calls for the return to the original and pure essence of the Dharma, Cihang is also the first Buddhist monk in Taiwan who attempted to, and eventually succeeded in, preserving his body afterdeath. Nowadays, the gilded relic-body of Cihang is enshrined and venerated in Xizhi, Taipei county, as well as being included in the list of the roushen pusa 薩菩身肉 (flesh-body Bodhisattvas) who appeared in the history of Chinese Buddhism.
This paper analyses Cihang’s relic-body as case-study of Chinese mummified Buddhist in the scene of contemporary Taiwan and modern Taiwanese Buddhim, discussing the Buddhist significance, sociological implications and eventual impact of mummification within the reality of the new renjian fojiao.