10 Strange Things Found Inside Statues

Statues, both new and old, serve numerous purposes in the world. While some statues and sculptures remind us of human accomplishments, others may simply be decorative in nature. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that they add a certain beauty to their surroundings. What is more incredible, however, is that many such structures carry hidden relics and souvenirs inside of them that fascinate us to no end. So, here are ten strange things found inside statues. 

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1. A toppled statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, England was revealed to have a 125-year-old magazine in its coattails. The magazine, called Tit-Bits, was a popular publication in 19th century England and focused on human stories, poetry, humor, and fiction. The magazine also contained signatures from the men who had installed the statue. 

Statue of Edward Colston
Erected in 1895, on 7 June 2020 the statue was defaced, toppled, and thrown into Bristol harbor during the George Floyd protests (Image to the left), Tit-Bits’ was an enormously popular weekly magazine launched in 1881. Image credits: John Cassidy via Wikimedia.org, Bristol Culture via itv.com

In June 2020, anti-racism protesters in Bristol, England tore down the statue of Edward Colston, an English merchant who was also a slave trader. They then threw it into Bristol Harbour, from where the authorities had it fished out to be preserved alongside other protest memorabilia. This then led to the discovery of a 125-year-old magazine inside the coattails of the statue. 

The magazine, titled Tit-Bits, was a popular publication in 19th century England that laid the foundation for British popular journalism. This particular copy of the publication, as workers at the M Shed museum in Bristol discovered, was from 1895 and contained the signatures of the men who had erected the statue.

It also had the date – 26 October. Fortunately, the magazine had not been too severely damaged by the water, allowing it to be cleaned thoroughly to reveal all this information. (1, 2)

2. A hoard of artifacts, such as scrolls and relics, were discovered inside a Japanese Buddhist statuette that is about 700 years old. The statue depicts the great Bodhisattva, Monju Bosatsu, who personifies the quality of wisdom. Typically, he is depicted carrying Buddhist literature in one hand and a sword in the other to symbolize his battle against ignorance. 

Buddhist statue
Image credit: NHK via ancientpages.com

In 2018, a hoard of scrolls and relics were discovered inside a Buddhist statue at the Hokkeji Temple in Nara, Japan. The statuette is only 30 inches tall but appears to contain about 180 artifacts within. According to officials, these relics have remained undisturbed for nearly 700 years, since the time they were placed inside the statue. 

Suspecting that there was something inside the statue, scientists had it probed with CT scans and discovered the hidden treasure. Of the 180 artifacts, 30 items were stuffed inside the statue’s head and the remaining 150 were found in its body.

The statue is of Monju Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva who personifies wisdom and is often depicted as a warrior fighting ignorance. Since these scrolls and relics were considered a remarkable discovery, scientists later put the statuette on display at the Nara National Museum. (1, 2)

3. An Australian auction house once discovered rare, ancient banknotes on the bottom of a Chinese statue dating to the 14th century. These notes belonged to the Ming Dynasty and were found crumpled up inside the cranial cavity of the sculpture. Experts believe that these may be among the earliest printed banknotes in China. 

Chinese statue
Specialists at Mossgreen auctions in Australia discovered this Ming dynasty banknote hidden inside the head of this 14th century Buddhist carving. Image credit: mossgreen auctions via edition.cnn.com

In 2016, the head of Asian art at Mossgreen auction house in Australia discovered an approximately 700-year-old banknote inside an ancient Buddhist sculpture. He had been inspecting the underside of the wooden statue when he found it crumpled inside its cranial cavity.

Upon closer examination, it became clear that the note belonged to the Ming Dynasty in China and was among the earliest printed currencies issued in the country.  

The wooden sculpture represents the head of a wise person in Buddhist culture, known as “Luohan,” who has gone through the four stages of enlightenment to reach nirvana.

The carvings on the sculpture and the text on the banknote suggest that the artwork was created during the Hongwu Period in China. The currency is of “one guan,” the highest available denomination at the time, and bears the official seals of the emperor himself. 

Later, the two items were sold for a combined sum of $48,032 AUD ($35,806 USD). (1, 2) 

4. In May 2021, a man was found dead inside a paper-mâché stegosaurus sculpture in Barcelona, Spain. The body belonged to a 39-year-old man who had been reported missing by his family. Local media reports claimed that he had climbed inside the sculpture to retrieve his phone that had fallen in and then got stuck. 

Stegosaurus sculpture
The man’s body was found inside one of the legs of the dinosaur. Image credit: Enfo via Wikimedia.org

In May 2021, a father and son noticed a smell emanating from a paper-mâché stegosaurus sculpture in Santa Coloma de Gramenet in Barcelona, Spain. The father then spotted a corpse through a crack in the sculpture’s leg and alerted the police. According to the authorities, the body was that of a 39-year-old man who had been reported missing by his family. However, they did not believe that any foul play was involved. 

After the discovery, three fire brigade teams arrived at the scene to cut open the sculpture’s leg and retrieve the body. Local media reports claimed that the man had dropped his phone inside the statue and had gone inside it to fetch the phone. Unfortunately, he likely got stuck upside down inside the sculpture and was unable to call for help. The statue was later removed from its spot in the city, where it had been used as an advertisement for an old cinema. (1, 2)

5. An 18th-century statue of Jesus Christ was found to have a handwritten note hidden inside its buttocks. The note, written in careful calligraphy, provides details about the key pastimes of the period, the religious, economic, and political situation of the time, and more. It also carries the signature of Joaquín Mínguez who was a chaplain in the Cathedral of Burgo de Osma.

Jesus Christ Statue
Image credit: CEN/Da Vinci Restauro via nypost.com

While restoring an 18th-century statue of Jesus Christ in Spain, workers noticed a hidden compartment beneath a cloth covering its buttocks. Inside this compartment, they discovered a hand-written note dating back to 1777. The note was penned by Joaquín Mínguez, who was a chaplain in the Cathedral of Burgo de Osma at the time. The note was written in careful calligraphy and contained various details of life from more than 240 years ago. 

Handwritten note
Image credit: CEN/Da Vinci Restauro via nypost.com

The letter talked about the statue, other sculptures carved by the same artist, the popular games of the time (including card and ball games), and also noted that diseases like typhoid and malaria were common. Mínguez also revealed that the main crops of the time were wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Afterward, the original copy of this letter was sent to the Archbishop, and a copy was returned to the secret compartment inside the statue. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 of the Strangest Unexplained Things From Around the World

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