The Birman Legend

Before the time when Christ walked the earth, and even before the time of Buddha, an ancient people called the Khmer lived in a southeast Asian country once called Burma and now called Myanmar. The Khmer believed in the magical ability of animals to ward off malevolence and evil forces.

In the temple of Lao-Tsun on the slopes of the Lugh, there lived 100 golden-eyed temple cats with long white hair. The cats bore the souls of the Kittah, or Khmer priests, after they had departed this life and awaited rebirth as the high priest in order to attain purity and perfection. In the temple lived the golden-bearded Grand Lama of all the Kittah. His entire life was devoted to worshipping Tsun-Kyan-Kse, the goddess in the golden robes with brilliant blue eyes who presided over the transformation of priestly souls as they left one life and entered the next. One clear evening, the honorable Mun Ha sat before the goddess in prayer. Next to him sat his devoted cat, Sinh, who was one of the white cats that resided in the temple. Like other other temple cats, Sinhn had eyes that were as golden as the robes of the goddess and his ears, nose, tail, and tips of his feet were as dark as the color of earth, a symbol of impurity of all that touches the ground.

That evening, as Mun Ha prayed, invaders from Siam, the land that is now called Thailand, entered the temple, killing Mun Ha on his throne. Because Mun Ha could no longer direct his gaze to the eternal goddess, Sinh put his paws on his noble master and faced the statue of Tsun Kyan-Kse. As Sinh contemplated the goddess, a miraculous transformation took place. As the other Kittah that had gathered around Mun Ha watched, Sinh's hair turned the color of a golden mist that matched the color of Tsun Kyan-Kse's robes. His eyes became the same blazing sapphire blue as those of the goddess, and his paws became pure white to the point where they were covered by his master's holy garments. As Singh faced the entrance too the temple, his gaze turned to the bronze doors. When the Kittahs realized the meaning of Sinh's gaze, they rushed to the door and closed them, thus saving the temple from being plundered by the invaders from Siam.

Sinh continued to sit on Mun Ha's throne for seven days contemplating Tsun Kyan-Kse. On the seventh day he died, taking the pure and perfect soul of his master with him. Seven days thereafter, the Kittah assembled in front of Tsun Kyan-Kse's statue to select Mun Ha's successor. All of the temple cats gathered there with them. As the priests prayed, the hair of the cats turned a golden color as Sinh's had done. Their eyes became the brilliant blue of the goddess, and the paws on all four feet turned pure white. Silently, the cats that possessed the souls of the temple's departed Kittah, gathered around the youngest Kittah and chose him as Mun Ha's successor. From that day forward, the sacred cats of Burma had coats of a golden mist, eyes of sapphire blue, and feet as pure and white as new-fallen snow. History of the Birman, K. Commings, pages 3-6.