Contrary to popular belief, Siamese cats were never given away as gifts by the Kings of Siam (Thailand) in the old days. Although White Elephants are sent away as far as England and America, the highly esteemed cats stayed; for only the King and members of the royal family are allowed to own them.
Siamese cats in Thailand are called as "Wichien-maat" (วิเชียรมาศ) which means Moon Diamond. It is the most famous of several breed of cats distinctly Thai. These cats are decendants of the sacred temple cats of Siam.
Ancient Siamese texts show that these cats are venerated as guardians of the temples. When a person of high status died, officials would select one of these cats to receive the dead person’s soul. The cat will then be removed from the royal household to be sent to one of the temples. And it doesn’t stop there – the chosen cat will spend the rest of its’ days living in immense luxury, monks and priest are its willing servants.
These cats were reputed to eat the finest foods from gold plates and to recline on cushions made of the most expensive silk. These luxuries had been provided by the departed one's relatives in an attempt to receive good fortune and blessings. Once they became temple cats, they were supposed to have special powers and could intercede for the soul of the dead person. Ancient texts reveal that these cats participated in ceremonies, religious or royal.
Original Siamese cats are crossed eyed and have a kink at the end of its tail! These features are regarded as “flaws” in the Western world. They tried to eliminate it by selective breeding for almost a hundred years! Unknown to their knowledge, these special characteristics has legends on its’ origins.
According to legends… Once, when all the men of Siam left their homes to defend our kingdom, just two cats - one male; Tien, and one female; Chula – remained, in order to guard Buddha's golden goblet in the sacred temple.
Tien became pretty restless and, after mating with Chula, left her so he can find another priest to look after the temple. Chula was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of guarding the Buddha's treasure alone -- she never once took her eyes away from the goblet till she got crossed eyed! And just in case she falls asleep, she would wrap her long tail around the goblet’s stem so tight, she developed a kink. All Chula's kittens were born with these features, even today - so the legends are kept alive.
Another version of the legend of the kinked tail is -- Once there was a princess who used her cat's tail as a ring-stand while she was bathing. The kink in the tail prevented the rings from falling off and being lost.
Wait a second here, it just occurred to me… if these beautiful cats were never given away as gifts by members of the royal family – How in the world did Mrs. Gould (first woman who took these cats to London) able to export a pair to England in 1884? How did she manage to have, not just one, but two?!! Hmmm…I don’t know about you, but I smell a smuggler. LOL! Ever since then, hundreds more appeared around London in the 1880s and an American Consul in Bangkok managed to send a pair to the White House around 1890. Now, can somebody tell me who taught us the art of smuggling? *Pffft!*
The SIAMESE CATS -- Living Treasures of Southeast Asia.
*If anybody has seen my cat Hugs (first photo), around Ekkamai Soi 10...pls pls pls let me know! She's been missing for like 5 months now! She got white irregular marks on the mouth area and on all her paws like she's wearing white boots! Hugs, please come back :(
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