A Stockade occupied by the Myinzein Myntha, a Prince who aspired to the vacant throne of Burmah
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a stockade occupied by a Burmese prince and guerilla fighters near Mandalay 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’. Two editions were issued, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, along with a set of lantern slides. Hooper made the series while serving as Provost Marshal with the British Expeditionary Force, which entered Mandalay, the Burmese royal capital, on 28 November 1885. King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) was deposed and taken prisoner, and a military occupation of the city began. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886 and the exile of Thibaw and Queen Supayalat to India. However Burmese resistance to British rule continued for several years after the annexation in the form of an armed struggle mounted by members of the extended Burmese royal family and guerrillas fighters. The stockade in this view was occupied by the Myinzein Myntha, a prince who aspired to the Burmese throne, and his followers. A caption by Hooper
accompanying the print describes his actions and the ensuing events: “having collected round him a band of some hundreds of Dacoits [armed robbers] and other ruffians, [he] harried the country to the E. and S.E. of Mandalay for some time. In January he retreated into the Shan Hills to a place called Zee-bin-zee, about 20 miles from Mandalay. A force was sent out on the 7th of January under command of Colonel Baker, Hampshire Regiment, to try and capture him and his followers, but, as usual, they got information of our approach from some of the trusted Burmese officials, and decamped before we arrived, so all we could do was to burn the stockade and village, which was also deserted, but was full of loot taken from a Shan caravan.” 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.