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Another group of Kaychins. They were preparing their food in a wooden zyat or rest-house outside Bhamo

Another group of Kaychins. They were preparing their food in a wooden zyat or rest-house outside Bhamo

Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1886

Shelfmark: Photo 312/(99)

Item number: 31299

Length: 9.3

Width: 15.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a group of Kachins taken at Bhamo in Burma (Myanmar) by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1886. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86), published in 1887 under the title ‘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) and 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, and then took Bhamo on 28 December. Bhamo is situated in Kachin State in the hills of Burma’s far north. A caption by Hooper accompanies the photograph of the Kachins, whom he found preparing food in a rest-house outside Bhamo: “I had very great difficulty in procuring a photograph of these men, as when I attempted to explain to them that it was an image of them I wanted to get to send to my country, they at once imagined that I should take the soul or spirit out of them, and it was only by pretending to perform some trick, and telling them to watch the camera, that I succeeded in doing anything at all.” 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.

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