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Re: White elephant sale

Posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 10, 2004

In Reply to: Re: White elephant posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 10, 2004

: : Interesting report. You can listen online at the NPR site.

: : WHITE ELEPHANT -- Researchers in Sri Lanka have spotted a white elephant in the wild, probably the first recorded instance of such an event. NPR's Scott Simon takes a look at the place white elephants hold in humankind's imagination. National Public Radio. Weekend Edition - Saturday, August 7, 2004.

: : http://www.npr.org/rundowns/rundown.php?prgDate=07-Aug-2004&prgId=7

: Yes, but is this white elephant, just a White Elephant?

You have of course triggered the obvious question. What is the origin of the term 'white elephant' as in 'white elephant sale'. My search through the archives produced the following:

The quote - White elephant (origin)
: "Such creatures were given as gifts by Siamese royalty to subjects with the intention of ruining them."
: Should read:
: White (albino) elephants were regarded as holy in ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries. To keep a white elephant was a very expensive task, since you had to provide the elephant with special food, and provide access for people who wanted to come and worship it. If a Thai King became, for some reason, dissatisfied with a sub-king, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient.

OK, that's what I found, but I didn't think it quite implies the same thing, as that which is meant by 'white elephant sale'.

Can anyone enlighten me?