Scientists have published plans to examine a mummified “siren” that is speculated to give immortality to anyone who tastes its meat.
Researchers from the University of Science and Arts Kurashiki have revealed that they will take a mummified “siren” for computer tomography in order to get to the bottom of its mysterious form and legend that is even claimed to be related to the bad things that have been happening to the world for years.
The mummy can also have religious significance according to the project’s creator, Hiroshi Kinoshita, of the Okayama Folklore Society.
“Japanese sirens have a legend of immortality. It is said that if you eat cheese meat, you will never die,” he said. “In many parts of Japan there is a legend that a woman accidentally ate cheese meat and lived for 800 years. This legend of “Jao-Bikuni” is preserved near the temple where the siren mummy was found. I heard that some people, believing in legend, ate shells of siren mummies.”
Kinoshita also explained how there is a legend around sirens that can “predict […] contagious disease” and that this may have hinted at the pandemic.
While the letter that came with the mummy suggests she was “caught in a fish-hunting net in the sea at Cube Prefecture”, Kinoshita is skeptical.
The letter said: “The fishermen who caught her did not know it was a siren, but took it to Osaka and sold it as an unusual fish. My ancestors bought it and kept it as a family fortune.”
The mummy is currently staying at the Enjuin Temple in the town of Asakuchi, where it is confined to a fireproof safe and was previously displayed in a glass box.
However, Kinoshita doubts the story. He stated: “Of course, I don’t think it’s a real siren. I think this was done for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for performances in Japan.”
He noted that the increased level of interest in the mummy is probably the result of “the siren legend that exists in Europe, China and Japan around the world”.
In Japanese folklore there is also a creature called ningjo, which has a body covered with shells, the mouth of a monkey and teeth of fish. Reflecting on mythology, Kinoshita explained that planned CT scans and even DNA tests hope to prove whether the mummy is “made of live animals.”
He concluded: “It looks like a fish with scales on the lower body and primate with hands and face on the upper body.”
The findings of the mummy’s scientific examination will be published later this year.