The White Elephant

Clair Chilvers

Lord Buddha had a wobbly tooth
King Anawrahta found it;
he would build a great pagoda.
He went to his astrologers
to ask them where;
they scratched their heads
but could not tell him.

King Anawrahta put the tooth
upon his great albino elephant
let him roam the great plain of Bagan;
where he stopped would be the site.

The elephant set off, halted;
King Anawrahta set his men to work
they started on the first pagoda.

The elephant grew bored
set off, then stopped;
King Anawrahta set his men to work again.

Twice more this happened
then the elephant lay down.
He knew his work was done.
Here King Anawrahta built
the greatest temple of the four
at Shwezigon.

The Shwezigon pagoda in Burma, dates from the 11th century. It is reputed to contain a tooth of the Buddha.

Main Location:

Shwezigon Pagoda, Nyaung-U, Myanmar (Burma)

The Shwezigon Pagoda in Myanmar

Photo by Clair Chilvers