The legend was reported by the writer Marcelle Adam, who owned the second Birman cat recognized in Europe around 1926: "Manou de Maldapour".
The myth of the Sacred Cat of Birma takes us back a very long time, indeed, in the XVIII century, near Lake Incaougji in Indo-china. There lived a rule of monks, known as kittahs. They belonged to the cult of the god Song Ho in the temple of Lao-Tsun. The temple housed the sapphire-eyed golden statue of the goddess Tsun-Kian-Kse who was responsible for residing over the souls of priests when they died. In their vast monastery lived a hundred sacred cats whose job was to receive the souls of dead monks who later would be reincarnated. When one cat dies, the priest’s soul would be released to complete its ethereal journey to paradise.
Each kittah therefore had his own cat, as did a very saintly old monk (some say the Head Monk), Mun Ha, who, accompanied by his white cat Sinh, passed his hours in meditation at the feed of Tsun Kian Tse. The kittahs’ reputation for holiness was well established in the region and infuriated the Brahmans and one night as the holy man meditated in front of the golden goddess, the temple was attacked and Mun Ha died. At the moment of his dead, Sinh, his pure white cat, placed his feet on his fallen master and turned to face the golden goddess, gazing into her eyes. As he did so the hairs of his body turned golden and his yellow eyes became sapphire blue like hers; his four white legs turned earthy brown as did the other extremities of his body – but where his feet rested gently on his dead master they remained white as a symbol fo purity. Thus the soul of Mun Ha passed into the body of Sinh.
Here the legend varies slightly – either the other priests rallied and drove the attackers from the temple or they escaped with their cats and build an underground temple to Tsun Kian Tse in Burma. Sinh singled out a young priest called Ligoa who was thus chosen as the next high priest. By the next day, the rest of the cats also changed colour to match those of Sinh. During the next seven days Sinh refused all food and water and did not leave his masters side. He died peacefully on the seventh day. His spirit and the soul of his master journeyed to their heavenly paradise to be embraced by the great god Song Ho.
The mystery of the origins of the Birman is an extension of the myth and moves to the end of the 19th century. In a similar incidence that had occurred in the legend, the sacred temple was once again attacked. Major Gordon Russell an officer in the English army serving in Burma came to the aid of the monks. His position enabled him to protect certain kittahs, or priests, whose lives were in danger, and in return they bestowed on him unprecedented privileges of entry into their secret and sacred places. Thus it was as a gesture of gratitude that the monks shared the legend with him. The timelines are a bit hazy since it appears that this was in 1895-8 but is also talked about in 1916. A second person, a Frenchman called Auguste Pavie, said to have been an explorer in the region was also involved.