A Kathé or Munnipoore Horseman
Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Watercolour with pen and ink of a horseman 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 documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878). The mission left Rangoon (Yangon) and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to the royal capital of Amarapura, founded in 1782. Grant (1813-1880) was sent as official artist of the mission.
The horseman in this portrait came from Manipur in the north-west of the region and known by the Burmese as Kathé. In 1826, Manipur became a state within the British Raj. Grant was unimpressed with the Burmese cavalry. He wrote that 'If the Infantry of the Burmese army disappointed expectation, the mounted portion yet more...for although there were many beautifully formed, powerful, and spirited [horses], very many more were of sorry appearance, as though of inferior blood, or badly fed. The men, believed to be principally or exclusively Munnipooreans, were strong enough looking, but miserably set off by their dress and equipments. Their clothes were of the same coarse quality as those of the foot soldiers, and their arms consisted of a short spear, and the customary sword slung at their backs.'