A CENTURIES-old mystery involving a mummified ‘mermaid’ has finally been solved after scientists puzzled for nearly 300 years.
The 12-inch creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese island of Shikoku between 1736 and 1741.
It has been kept in a temple in the Japanese city of Asakuchi for around 40 years.
With a contorted face, sharp teeth, two hands, and hair on its head and forehead, it has an eerily human appearance—except for its fishy lower half.
Locals worshiped the mysterious creature for years – believing that it bestows immortality on anyone who tastes its flesh.
Chief Priest Kozen Kuida told Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun they even worshiped it in the hope that it “would help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic.”
But last year, researchers at Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts took the mummy for tests and CT scans to unravel its mysteries.
And they have now discovered that the creature is entirely artificial and was made in the late 19th century.
No skeleton detectable – instead made of paper, fabric and cotton.
Scientists said the lower half of the body came from a fish’s tail – but they believe it was added by whoever created it.
Its jaw and teeth came from a fish, and the “hair” on its head originally came from a mammal, the researchers found.
After launching the project last year, Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society said the creature may have religious significance.
“Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality,” he said.
“They say if you eat a mermaid’s flesh you will never die.
“There is a legend in many parts of Japan that a woman accidentally ate the flesh of a mermaid and lived 800 years.
“This ‘Yao Bikuni’ legend is also kept near the temple where the mermaid mummy was found.
“I heard that some people who believed in the legend used to eat the scales of mermaid mummies.”
He believes it was made sometime during the Edo period – an era of Japanese history that spanned from 1603 to 1867.
“Obviously I don’t think it’s a real mermaid,” he said last year.
“I believe this was made during the Edo period for export to Europe or for eyeglasses in Japan.
“The legend of the mermaid lives in Europe, China and Japan around the world. So I can imagine that people were very interested in it back then.”
A similar example was exhibited by PT Barnum – whose life inspired the 2017 blockbuster The Greatest Showman – at his American Museum in New York before it burned down in 1865.
This mummy, created from the torso and head of a monkey sewn onto the back half of a fish, was reportedly caught off the coast of Fiji and later purchased by Japanese sailors.
In Japanese folklore, there is a creature called Ningyo who is described as having a monkey’s mouth with fish-like teeth and a body covered in golden scales.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7429658/mystery-mummified-mermaid-creepy-human-face-solved/ Mystery surrounding 300-year-old mummified ‘mermaid’ with creepy ‘human face’ finally solved after years of baffling scientists