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Zaigi (ဇော်ဂျီ)

Burmese term for a yogi (fig.), but also the name of a popular character from Burmese folklore, who represents an alchemist who possesses supernatural powers. According to popular belief, Zaigi is a demigod clad in red, full of energy, who lives in the forest. He always carries a magic stick. He has a friendly face and a philosophical mind. As he is an alchemist, he grinds medical plants on a stone slab using his magic stick. When he achieves success, he dances about like an acrobat. He is capable to sit on his magic stick, flying through the air and boring through the earth. He frequently appears in both zat pwe and yokthei pwe performances, and typically carries a red stick, wears a red brimless hat with earflaps, and a long red jacket trimmed with gold (fig.). He often has a beard or goatee, but no moustache. A popular character, he may also be depicted in architecture, such as the pyit taing daung-like, i.e. egg-shaped doll, that stands at the bank of the Irrawaddy River in Pagan (fig.). His name is also transliterated Saiji, Zo-gji, Zaw-Gyi and Zodji, though the pronunciation is closer to So-dji. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.