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Plastinated bodies from China?

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on January 25, 2008

One of the strangest phenomena to hit museums over the past few years has been the bizarre exhibtions of human cadavers preserved in plastic. (Be patient - I’ll get to the China angle on this in a bit.) The pioneer of “plastination” is Gunther von Hagens, a German inventor and pioneer who figured out how to preserve dead bodies and has in the years since put together “Body Worlds,” exhibitions of skinless bodies positioned in strange poses. Just thinking about dead, skinless bodies in ballet poses gives me the creeps but apparently many people have stronger stomachs than I do, since Body Worlds shows have been big hits in many American museums.

Lawmakers in California have just approved legislation that would require exhibitors to get people to give permission for their bodies to be treated this way. The problem, according the L.A. Times, is that the bodies come from China, and who knows what the procedure is for Chinese to give their consent. That seems pretty reasonable.

The Times quotes a docent at a Body Worlds exhibition in California saying that bodies come from China. But according to the Times, the company denies that it uses Chinese cadavers. Body Worlds “does not use bodies from China,” the paper reported, citing company spokeswoman Georgina Gomez. Why, then, does von Hagens have an operation in China? Here’s what I found from a quick look at the Body Worlds website bio on von Hagens: “In 2001, he founded a private company, the Von Hagens Dalian Plastination Ltd., in Dalian, China, which currently employs a staff of 250.” According to Body Worlds, there’s no connection between the bodies that Body Worlds shows in American museums and the Chinese bodies that the 250 workers in Dalian are helping to preserve with plastic. What then do the Dalian workers do? And where are the bodies from?

Reader Comments

Noah Magnuson

January 25, 2008 11:35 AM

It is suspected that some or most of the bodies come from 'nameless' prisoners in China, those who are arrested and 'disappear' like Falun Gong practitioner. It has been documented by the U.N. and the independent Matas/Kilgour report that they are using Falun Gong practitioners as a living 'organ bank' for transplants, so it is quite likely they would sell them to von Hagens since he has no real documentation to the contrary. Disgusting from all angles!!!


January 25, 2008 10:34 PM

Err, Bruce, why don't you hop onto a plane to China and find out yourself where the bodies came from before you give any judgment.


January 28, 2008 10:01 AM

Any proofs that they were Falung Gong practitioners? It seems to me people can accuse China on anything without the need for proof. It has to be the Chinese duty to prove that they're innocent. Great job, human right groups. No wonder the Chinese ignore you.


August 11, 2008 8:20 AM

A few sites of interest:
China cruelly exploits humans and animals. Watch the video and tell me that you "don’t care; they’re just animals." 2 MILLION animals (cats, dogs, etc.) endure this torture every year. Evil, sick, sadistic and totally unnecessary. If they would at least humanely kill them before skinning them, I wouldn't protest. BUT THIS IS SICK! They skin them ALIVE!

...and now onto human exploitation:

David Matas Explains Organ Harvesting in China

An Investigative Report on the Persecution of Falun Gong by CCP in the Name of Olympics

Falun Gong Practitioner Tells of Torture and Persecution

Lady Arrested Again After Being Tortured by Police

Important links:

The Nine Commentaries is a book that has been published to reveal the bloody history of the CCP. The following is a link to the book where you can read online:

Short FAQ of the Persecution and what Falun Gong actually is:

The website of Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG):

The Falun Gong human rights working group:

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong:

The Number of Deaths of Practitioners of Falun Gong in China:

The organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Government:


December 26, 2008 11:06 PM

he got you good.
However, in regards to Cadaver donorship, quite a few people in America, Germany, and London (yes Im aware London is a city, not a country) after having viewed the exhibitions, have thrown themselves towards the oppurtunity of being preserved in plastic and used for educational or display purposes. With such an abundant flow of Donors, it doesn't make sense for Hagens to use the bodies of Chinese prisoners, when he has plenty of people who want to be plastinates. However, I am aware of China's use of exucuted prisoners as cadavers. I suppose not enough people in China wish to donate their bodies, so they use prisoners. While i don't agree with the morality of this particular situation, is does serve as a strong incentive towards civil obedience within the Chinese population. China is extrememly sophisticated and intellectual, so there it's reasonable for there to be a strong demand for human cadavers for their medical institutions. As for Von Hagen's establishment in Dalian, I can't deny that Plastination is a growing market. There's money to be made, but since the selling of human body parts is quite contrroversial, it would probably be best to have the market take place in a location that is loose in morals. China is'nt evil, they just have a superiority complex towards their inferior occupants, such as prisoners and animals. Often citerierized as cruel, China is the perfect place to establish a Body market. And that's why Von Hagens put it there. As for Bodys in his displays, and not being sold, those he worked on himself, personally, and every single one of them was donated with the consent of that person. Apart from the fetuses, but I don't want to get into that argument.


August 29, 2010 9:29 AM

I am currently enrolled in an Anatomy & Physiology class at a state University. The lab has a plastinated body on display. The face looks somewhat oriental. The fingernails are brown and spoon-shaped, indicating possible malnutrition. The lungs have black deposits through-out the tissue. I have growing suspicions that this man was a slave from a coal mine somewhere in China.

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