Ruins of the Colossal Lions at Mengoon
Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Watercolour with pen and ink of the ruins of the colossal lion sculptures next to Mingun Pagoda at Mingun 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 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, 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 sent as 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.
Mingun, a short distance north of Amarapura on the opposite bank of the Irrawaddy, is best known for its immense stupa that was begun by Bodawpaya at the close of the 18th century and left incomplete on his death in 1819. In 1838, the structure was damaged by an earthquake. Grant wrote that: 'Turning round from the enormous temple, and looking towards the river bank, two other gigantic, and at first unintelligible piles of brick and mortar work, surprise the eye. These are the remains of the Colossal Lions, intended to have formed the customary guardians of the Temple entrance, and of which the hind quarters are all that remain in position.'