The Sacred Cat of Burma
Centuries ago in Ancient Burma (present day Myanmar), stood the temple Lao-Tsun with one hundred white cats. The temple was built in honor of the Khmer People’s beautiful goddess Tsu-Kyan-Kse. One night, the temple came under attack. Whilst attempting to protect the golden statue of their goddess, the High Priest Mun-Ha suffered a heart attack.
Sinh, the masters white cat, defended his dying master by hissing at the enemies. This bravery encouraged the junior priests to successfully protect their temple. Miraculously, transmutation took place and the soul of Mun-Ha passed into the body of Sinh.
As Man-Ha’s soul transferred, Sinh’s body began to change colour. His body transformed into a pale gold representing the statue of Tsu-Kyan-Kse. His face, legs and tail then became the colour of the earth whilst his yellow eyes turned sapphire blue. His paws remained unchanged reflecting Man-Ha’s purity.
The pain of loosing his master was too much for Sinh. He met his death on the seventh day, taking the soul of his master to Tsu-Kyan-Kse. The junior priests were burdened with choosing a successor of Mun-Ha. They were amazed to see that the one hundred white temple cats had all taken on the same colouring as Sinh. All the cats had surrounded the youngest priest indicating the will of the goddess. From then on, when a priest died, transmutation would again take place and his soul would transfer into the body of a temple cat.
The History of Birmans
Whether you choose to believe the legend or not, there is a more scientific explanation as to how we ended up with the Birman Cats we know and love today. Around 1919, two Birman cats were transported from Burma to France. How this happened is still up for debate.
One account involves two Englishmen – Major Russell Gordon and Auguste Pavie. The two aided the priests of the very same temple of Lao-Tsun when it was once again attacked. As a thank you, they were presented with two Birman cats upon their return to France. Another version states that a Mr. Vanderbilt bought the two cats from a servant belonging to the temple of Lao-Tsun.
Unfortunately, the male cat passed away during the journey. Luckily, the female cat was pregnant. She is often considered the matriarch of European Birmans.
In 1925 the breed grew in popularity and was officially recognized in France. However, World War II had a negative impact on the breed, causing near extinction. But with hard work from dedicated breeders, the Birman came back and was eventually imported to England in 1955.
A pair of Birman Cats were imported to Australia in 1967. The 1970’s saw more imports come in, which became the foundation of Birmans in Australia today. Many of these can still be found in pedigrees.
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Petplan.