10 inches tall
Is it a lion? A dragon? A human? This chinthe is all that and more. The chinthe is a ancient mythical creature that stood guard at pagoda entrances of southeast Asia. According to myth, the chinthe was the offspring of a princess and a lion. After being abandoned, it went on a rampage. The princess’s son slayed the chinthe, not knowing it was actually his father. To atone for his mistake, the son made statues of the chinthe to serve as guardians at important places.
Courtesy RockrangoonThis chinthe was collected by Gen. Charles McCormick Reeve, who served in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines.
Little brass weights cast in the same shape of chinthes were used as some of the first forms of currency in some regions of Asia.
The Science Museum will be presenting and exhibit – Mythic Creatures – that explores humans' fascination with fictional creatures starting Friday, Feb. 3. Click here to learn more about that exhibit.