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Old Monastic houses - a Road in Rangoon

Old Monastic houses - a Road in Rangoon

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(2)

Item number: 5402

Length: 325

Width: 471

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

Watercolour in pen and ink of monastery buildings beside a wide road in Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar) 'A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855' by Colesworthy Grant. This album consists of 106 landscapes and portraits of Burmese and Europeans documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878).

The mission followed the ending of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation of Pegu (Bago). It was despatched by the Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie on the instructions of the East India Company, to attempt to persuade King Mindon to sign a treaty formally acknowledging the extension of British rule over the province. The mission started out from Rangoon and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) to the royal capital at Amarapura. Grant (1813-1880) was the official artist of the mission. In recognition of his skill, he was presented with a gold cup and ruby ring by the Burmese King. A number of his drawings were used for illustrations to Henry's Yule’s 'A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855' published in London in 1858.

Grant described this view as follows: 'The building occupied by Major Phayre, the Commissioner, as a temporary residence at the time of the Mission, is one of the few remaining old Kioungs or dwellings of the Poongees, or priests of old Rangoon, and stands at the west side of the principal road leading to the great Pagoda, which is seen at the extreme of the drawing. Throughout Burmah, the Monasteries, or dwellings of the priests, which are always in the immediate vicinity of a temple, and generally attached to it, partake of the sanctity, the honors and privileges of the pagoda, and other religious edifices. The triple roof is an architectural distinction peculiar and permitted only to these monastic buildings, and to the residence of the King, the Heir apparent, and 'Lord White Elephant.' The very beautiful seven-roofed pyasath of the Tzoum or sanctuary, of which numerous specimens are found in Captain Tripe's Photographs, is confined elsewhere to the Royal Palace, crowning the spire of which, also, is found the graceful and gilded Tee, an honorable distinction appertaining only to persons and things sacred or royal. In presence of the Priesthood, however, even the King 'wears his honors meekly,' - for on visiting a pagoda, or monastery he will remove his shoes, whereas a Poongee, or Priest, on entering the royal palace or presence, is not, it is said, under the necessity of doing the same tiling. The Kioungs are built entirely of wood, and raised on massive pillars

about seven feet from the ground; but the stairs, with their gracefully convoluted and

massive sides, are invariably of brick and plaster, - the only bit of masonry belonging to the edifice. The old buildings here represented, dilapidated and dismantled of their

ornament, convey not the slightest conception of the gorgeous monasteries of Umeerapoora.'

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