The Legend of the Birman

Listen While I Tell You A Tale

Photo courtesy of Susan Hetherington

Many centuries ago in Burma, the temple of Lao-Tsun was built for the goddess Tsun-Kyan-Kse. One hundred white cats lived in, and guarded the temple. One day, while the head priest, Mun-ha, and his companion cat, Sinh, were praying to the golden statue of the goddess, the temple was raided. Mun-ha was killed as he tried to defend the goddess' statue, whereupon Sinh leapt upon his master's prone body, and hissed his defiance at the bandits. With this a miraculous transformation took place, as the cat's white body took on the golden hue of the goddess.

His face, tail, and legs became the colour of the earth except where his paws touched his master's body. Here his paws remained the white of purity. The junior priests were emboldened and the bandits dismayed by this miracle, and soon the priests drove out the bandits. For the next seven days Sinh refused all food and water, finally dying and taking his master's soul to paradise.

When the priests came to choose Mun-ha's successor, the temple's hundred cats came into the holy chamber, but they were no longer white. They had all undergone the same miraculous transformation as Sinh. They encircled a young priest, Lioa, thereby choosing him as the new head priest.