Chinthe – a fearsome, sad and romantic beast

Chinthe – a fearsome, sad and romantic beast

At the entrance of nearly every pagoda in Myanmar stands two chinthes, a lion-like creature, standing guard.  In the midst of time, a lion fell in love with a princess and had a son.  Sadly the princess left the lion and he became enraged, and rained terror across the land.  When the son became older, he set out to slay the lion and bring peace back to his kingdom once again.  After a mighty battle, the prince won and killed the lion.  He went back to his kingdom triumphant, but then learnt from  his mother that he had actually killed his own father.  The son was so distraught that he built a statue of the lion as a guardian of the pagoda to atone for his sin. 

The chinthe has become one of Myanmar’s national symbols and is on the state emblem.  The fearsome lion has become the nation’s protector, as it can pounce on enemies from nine different directions.  He was placed on Myanmar’s ancient royal thrones and has become part of Myanmar’s horoscope, representing those who are born on a Tuesday.  He can also be seen on Myanmar’s currency and even in the logos of many leading companies.   In the Second World War, his name was used for one of the special operation units of the British and Indian armies during the Burma Campaign of World War II, the famous Chindits.

Chinthes and Myanmar are inseparable so it was obvious that we have them as part of our collection of mother of pearl buttons.   Their strong profile adds a fierce, yet protective presence to your clothes and craft projects. 

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