THE LEGEND OF THE BIRMAN CAT
To appreciate the legend of the Birman, one must first visualise the beautiful temples in ancient Burma. The magnitude of the Buddah idols help to impress upon us the deep religious faith the people of this land have. Their belief in the reincarnation of souls and their deep respect and love for their Priests. The watchful and loving care of the one hundred white temple cats is due to their belief that the Priests are returned in the form of the Sacred Cats of Burma after death.
Centuries ago the Khmer people of Asia built beautiful temples of worship to pay homage to their gods. One such temple built many centuries ago was the temple called Lao-Tsun built in honor of Tsu-Kyan-Kse their beautiful goddess. One night the temple was raided by bandits, and in trying to protect the golden statue of their goddess, the High Priest Mun-Ha suffered a heart attack.
As his master lay dying the priests white cat, Sinh sprung to his aid and hissed in defiance at the intruders, the junior priests seeing this were heartened and managed to repel the bandits. Sinh relaxed and gazed up at the statue, as he did the perfect soul of his master suffered the miracle of transmutation and passed into the body of the cat. As the transfer took place, the cat´s body changed to reflect the pale gold of the statue of Tsu-Kyan-Kse, his face legs and tail became the color of the earth and his yellow eyes turned a brilliant sapphire blue. Only his four white feet still resting on his masters body remained unchanged signifying his masters purity.
On the seventh day Sinh also died, carrying with him the perfect soul of his master to Tsun-Kyan-Kse. As peace returned, the remaining priests gathered before the statue to decide who would become the successor, and were amazed to see that the one hundred white temple cats had all taken on the same coloring of Sinh. In complete silence the cats now surrounded the youngest priest, thereby indicating the will of the goddess. From that time onwards, when a priest died, his soul was transmigrated into the body of one of the temple cats, upon the death of the cat the transmutation of the priest became complete.
THE HISTORY OF THE BIRMAN CAT
The Birman cat is believed to have originated in Burma, where it was considered sacred, the companion cat of the Kittah priests. The arrival of the Birman in Europe began in 1919 with two Englishmen, Major Gordon Russell and August Pavie, who were living in France at the time. They received a pair of Birmans from the Kittah people in gratitude for their part in saving the temple from being over run by invading enemies. The male unfortunately died during the journey to his new home, but the female survived the long ocean voyage. She was in kitten on her arrival, this litter produced the first Birmans to be seen in the western world.
In 1925 the Federation of Feline Francaise recognised the Birman as a true breed of pedigree cat. During the war all pedigree cats in Europe suffered a great set back. Of the Birmans that had been born only two now survived, a pair named Orloff and Xenia Kaabaa. The offspring of these pair formed the new foundation of the Birman breed in post war France. other long haired breeds were used to guarantee the continued existence of the Birman, but by the early 1950´s pure Birman litters were being produced from Birman parents.
The controlling body in France began to recognise the potential of this breed on the show bench and by 1955 the Birman was once a gain recognised as a pure bred aristocrat in Europe. From that time on only pure Birmans were bred. It has taken over thirty years of breeding by devotees of this breed to bring the Birman up to the high standard that exists today.
THE ARRIVAL OF BIRMANS TO AUSTRALIA
In 1967, Mrs Judith Lewis with the help of Mrs Judith Starkey imported the first pair of Birmans into Australia. These were Grand Champion Stacpoly Kharma a seal point male and Praha Shigatse a seal point female. These two cats formed the foundation of Australia's Birmans. These were then followed by further imports from English lines. In the 1970´s we saw the arrival of Smokeyhill Thai Phong, Praha Hu Sung, Smokeyhill Tung Whu, Sahra Cassandra, Miorama Beau Matou Miorama Minet Mignon, Sahra Cyrene, Arbaybi Kareena, Arbaybi Kadumashan, Arbaybi Kaitu and Praha Hoa Mai.
We then saw imported from Holland´s Van de Snoezepoesjes cattery two cats, a male Charmeur and a female Promise (brother and sister). Nabab de Sirpur, a blue point male also came in from France. All of these cats were to become the foundation of the cats we have here today. Many of these cats mentioned can still be found in pedigrees today.
Since then many other imports have arrived including new colors. Julie Simpson imported the first lilac point stud from the Shwechinthe cattery named Chindwin. This cat can be seen in many pedigrees of Birmans in Australia.