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The British Residency - Toung-um-mah

The British Residency - Toung-um-mah

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(47)

Item number: 54047

Length: 327

Width: 483

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour in pen and ink of the British Residency at Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura from '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 to Amarapura took place after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation by the British of the Burmese province of Pegu (Bago). It was despatched by the Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie on the instructions of the East India Company, with the aim of persuading 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) River to Amarapura, a royal city founded in 1782. Grant (1813-1880) was the official artist of the British mission. The Residency building housed members of the mission party during their stay at Amarapura.

Grant wrote that: 'The building ...[was] constructed under the superintendence of Mr. Camaretta, with the friendly aid of Mr. Spears, at an expence of between ten and fifteen thousand Rupees. The building, large and commodious, was formed of substantial teak wood; the floors of bamboo, and the walls of neat matting made from the same material. The lower part, and joinings were finished with plank in the form of wainscoting, which gave to the workmanship a very complete and respectable appearance. Two large rooms, carpeted with printed felt rugs, occupied the centre of the building. The principal of these rooms, upwards of seventy feet in length, and furnished with dining table, punkah and chairs, was tastefully decorated, at either end, with large artificial trees, springing from Chinese vases, loaded with artificial but edible and renewable fruit; whilst the verandah in front was furnished with four large silver water jallahs, and, below, two others, of gigantic proportions, each furnished with ladles of the same costly material, and all realizing an appearance of semi-barbarous pomp, and rustic elegance. The indispensable Pooè, or opera house, with conical roof, is seen in front, partly intercepted by the trees. The house stood in the centre of a square of about eighty yards diameter, and, except at the gateways, the enclosure was surrounded on the inner side by a continuous line of mat Barracks for the European soldiers, (Her Majesty's 84th,) the sailors and irregular Cavalry of the escort, and the servants; and on the outer side, a corresponding line of shed for the Burmese guard of about 600 armed men...The quarters of the irregular Cavalry (8th) were in rear of the spectator, and their horses were picketed or tethered in front under the trees. One of the men is seen on sentry duty.'

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