A while ago I came across this article where they explained the discovery of a mummified monk inside an old statue of a sitting Buddha. The monk, who is sitting in the lotus position, is thought to have starved himself to death in an act of extreme spiritual devotion.
The story made me wonder about how the renaissance masters achieved such perfection when in comes to represent human proportions. Michelangelo stated that the sculpture was inside the piece of stone all along, the only thing you must do is to remove the surplus. But, what if the real process would have been the other way around?