Another view from Mandalay Hill looking due East over the 2nd Madras Lancer lines towards the Shan Hills
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the view looking due east from Mandalay Hill in Burma (Myanmar), taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1886. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86), published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. There were two editions, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, and a set of lantern slides was issued. Hooper made the series while serving as Provost Marshal with the British Expeditionary Force, which entered Mandalay on 28 November 1885. King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) was taken prisoner, and an occupation was begun in the city. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886 and the exile of Thibaw and his queen Supayalat to India. Mandalay was the last royal capital of Burma, and was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min of the Konbaung dynasty, who shifted his seat from Amarapura. It was built at the foot of Mandalay Hill, an ancient sacred site, in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy. Hooper describes the view in a caption accompanying the photograph : “looking due East, over the 2nd Madras Lancer lines towards the Shan Hills, which rise, covered with forest, to a height of 6,000 feet, and form the boundary to the East of the Kingdom of Upper Burmah. They are about 7 miles from Mandalay, the country being, as seen in the picture, quite flat. A great part of it is under water during the rains and cold season, as then the Nanda and Aubinleh Tanks are united into one vast sheet of water through which are only two roads, one running directly from the East Gate of the city to the Hill of Yankeentoung, where a military post has been established, and the other in a straight line from about the centre of Mandalay Hill towards the Shan Hills.” Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the war in Burma are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. The series is also notable for the political scandal which arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the ethical role of the photographer in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war.