Origin of 300-year-old mummified mermaid that has mystified scientists for years solved

Origin of 300-year-old mummified mermaid that has mystified scientists for years solved

Mummified mermaid - Pen News Hiroshi Kinoshita

A mummified mermaid that was said to have been caught off the Japanese coast in the mid-1700s has baffled scientists for more than 300 years.

The 12-inch tall creature was reportedly caught off the Pacific Ocean island of Shikoku and before long was worshipped by locals who believe that a bite from the creature would bring immortality.

For the last 40 years, the mummy was kept in a temple in the city of Asakuchi where locals even believed that it would help alleviate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mystery creature with its grimacing face, pointed teeth, two hands, and hair on its head and brow, has a human-like appearance except that it has a fish-like tail.

Keen to resolve the mystery researchers at the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts took the mummy for tests and CT scans according to the Sun on Saturday, February 18.

Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society said the creature could have had religious significance adding: “Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality.

“It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, 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 for 800 years.

“This ‘Yao-Bikuni’ legend is also preserved near the temple where the mermaid mummy was found.

“I heard that some people, believing in the legend, used to eat the scales of mermaid mummies.”

But the researchers found that the mummified mermaid was nothing but a fake having been made in the late 1800s. They said that there’s no evidence of any skeleton and that the item is made of paper, cloth and cotton.

The lower half of the body is said to have been added by whoever made the mummy and that it came from a fish. He believes it was manufactured between 1603 to 1867 saying: “Of course, I don’t think it’s a real mermaid.”

“I think this was made for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for spectacles in Japan.

“The legend of mermaids remain in Europe, China and Japan all over the world. Therefore, I can imagine that people at that time were also very interested in it.”

It is not known what locals think now that the mystery of the 300-year-old mummified mermaid they worshipped now that its origin has been solved.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.