Was driving around town today when I came across a sign saying "White Elephant Sale", it reminded me of storybook England where the women of genteel birth used to organise these sales to raise funds for various church activities or other worthy causes and also of William, Richmal Crompton's adorably mischievous twelve year old who used to organise such sales in his own indomitable style. This term though mostly in use in western countries has a decidedly oriental descent.
White or albino elephants were regarded as holy in ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries.To possess a white elephant was regarded as a sign that the monarch was ruling with justice and the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity. The tradition derives from tales in the scriptures which associate a white elephant with the birth of Buddha. 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 dissatisfied with a subordinate, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient.