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Miren (mellified man)

From Kook Science

Miren (Hanzi: 蜜人, Mì rén, "honeyed body") or Alabo mi-zi-ren (Hanzi: 阿拉伯 蜜漬人, Ālābó mì zì rén, "Arab honey-steeped body"), frequently translated in English as mellified man and human mummy confection, is an apocryphal medicinal preparation of human remains that have been embalmed in honey, an application of reputed Arabic origin described in the 1592 pharmacopeia Běncǎo Gāngmù (本草綱目, "Compendium of Materia Medica") by Li Shizhen (李時珍), who, in turn, attributed it to the 1366 work Chuògēng lù (輟耕錄, "Talks while the Plough is Resting") by Tao Zongyi (陶宗儀), a scholar of the Yuan dynasty period.

Sources

1366, Chuògēng lù (輟耕錄, "Talks while the Plough is Resting")

木乃伊. 回回田地有年七十八歲老人,自願舍身濟眾者,絕不飲食,惟澡身啖蜜。經月,便溺皆蜜,既死,國人殮以石棺,仍滿用蜜浸鐫志歲月於棺蓋,瘞之。俟百年後,啟封,則蜜劑也。凡人損折肢體,食少許,立愈。雖彼中亦不多得,俗曰蜜人,番言木乃伊。

Mùnǎiyī (Mummy). In the Islamic lands, there was a 78-year-old elderly man who voluntarily sacrificed his life for others, abstaining from food, only drinking and bathing in honey. After a month of this, when even his excrement had become honey, he died, and his countrymen placed the remains in a sarcophagus filled with honey, engraving it with the year and month, then sealing and interring it. After a hundred years, the sarcophagus was unsealed, and the remains were made into a medicinal preparation. When a person breaks their limb, they would eat a little, and they would be healed. There is not much of it available, but it is commonly called miren (蜜人), or in their foreign language mùnǎiyī (mummy).

1592, Běncǎo Gāngmù (本草綱目, "Compendium of Materia Medica")

按陶九成《輟耕錄》云︰天方國有人年七八十歲,願舍身濟眾者,絕不飲食,惟澡身啖蜜,經月便溺皆蜜。既死,國人殮以石棺,仍滿用蜜浸之,鐫年月於棺,瘞之。俟百年後起封,則成蜜劑。遇人折傷肢體,服少許立愈。雖彼中亦不多得,亦謂之蜜人。陶氏所載如此,不知果有否?姑附卷末,以俟博識。

According to Tao Zongyi (Táojiǔchéng, 陶九成)'s "Talks while the Plough is Resting", in Arabia (Tianfang, 天方) there are men, seventy or eighty years old, that are willing to sacrifice their lives for others, and so take no food or drink, but only consume and bathe in honey, until all their excrement is honey, dying after a month of this preparation. When they die, the sacrifice is placed in a sarcophagus that is filled with honey, inscribed with their year and month of death. After being sealed for a hundred years, the remains are then used to make a medicinal preparation. [As an example,] when someone breaks a limb, they take a small amount to effect a cure. Although scarce, it is popularly called miren (蜜人). [Tao] relates this, but I do not know whether it is really true? Regardless, I include it the end of this volume, for the knowledge of the learned.

1931, 木乃伊. Mu Nai Yi, Human Mummy Confection

  • Read, Bernard Emms (1931), "Chinese Materia Medica", Peking Natural History Bulletin (Peking [Beijing]: Yenching University and Peking Society of Natural History) 

In which the author translates miren as "mellified man," and assigns it the alternative title of "Human Mummy Confection."

1974, Alchemy and Chemistry

  • Needham, Joseph; Ping-Yu, Ho; Gwei-Djen, Lu (1974), "Alchemy and Chemistry", Science and Civilisation in China: Chemistry and Chemical Technology, 5 

In which the author opines that "the story had got mixed up with a Burmese custom of preserving the bodies of abbots and high monks in honey, so that the Western notion of a drug made from perdurable human flesh was combined with the characteristic Buddhist motif of self-sacrifice for others."