statues of Chinthe ( the guardian lions)
at the entrance to the Mandalay Hill temple. The Chinthe (pronounced
'chin-thay'), the mythical leo-gryph of Myanmar, guardian of the temples,
goes far back into Buddhist and Myanmar mythology. The Mahavamsa, the
Great Pall Chronicle of Ceylon (c 500 AD), tells the story somewhat like
A princess had a son through her marriage to a lion, but forsook the lion who then became the terror of the land. The son set out to slay the lion. When he found the lion he shot an arrow at him, but so great was the lion's unshaken love for his son that the arrow rebounded from the lion's brow and fell to earth at the youth's feet. Three times this happened. But then the lion grew wrathful; and when the youth let fly the fourth arrow, it pierced the lion's body and killed him. Thus the lion lost his life because he had lost his self-possession and allowed wrath to pervade his heart.
Legend goes on to say that the son later erected a statue of the lion as guardian of the temple, to atone for this murder. Certainly, the chinthe (sometimes portrayed as half lion and half human) is revered and loved throughout Myanmar.
It is also a protector, which can pounce on the enemies of religion (ie the State), from nine different directions. Due to this superiority it was used symbolically on the royal thrones of Myanmar.