Shwechinthe Birmans

/ Chinthe Story

Photos by Robert Fox and others

© Shwechinthe Birmans

Breeders of sacred temple cats for over 30 years

The Chinthe is a leogryph (lion-like creature, half lion and half dog or dragon) that is often seen at the entrances of pagodas and temples in Burma and other Southeast Asian countries.  The chinthe is featured prominently on the kyat, the currency of Burma.  Chinthes almost always in pairs, and serve to protect the pagoda.  They typically appear as animals, but are sometimes found with human faces.

In days before the introduction of money, brass weights were commonly used to measure standard quantities of staple items such as food ingredients. These brass weights

were usually cast in the shape of mythical beasts, one of which was the Chinthe.

The story of the Chinthe goes something like this: A princess had a son through her marriage to a lion, but later abandoned the lion who then became enraged and set out on a road of terror throughout the lands. The son then went out to slay this terrorizing lion. The son came back home to his mother stating he slew the lion, and then found out that he killed his own father. The son later constructed a statue of the lion as a guardian of a temple to atone for his sin.

The Chinthe is revered and loved by the Burmese people, and it is used symbolically on the royal thrones of Burma.  As well as being a precursor of money itself, a Chinthe will protect your wealth and bring you good luck to increase it.

The Chinthe Story