Burmese lady 15640
Photographer: Beato, Felice (1825-c.1907)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Burmese lady, taken by Felice Beato in c.1890. The photograph is credited to Beato on the basis of the studio backdrop, which occurs in several of his photographs. This is a full-length studio portrait, showing the woman posed against a painted woodland scene and holding a long cheroot in her left hand. She wears a striped silk hta-mein (wrap-around skirt) with a wide dark waistband and a close-fitting jacket of fine muslin or cotton known as an ein-gyi over a bodice with a floral design. In her hair she wears a jewelled headband and she is adorned with necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. During the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885), rich jewellery, fine fabrics such as silk and garments such as her jacket were reserved for court officials and their wives by sumptuary laws. After the fall of the Burmese monarchy they were worn by the wealthy. European writers noted the relative freedom, grace and confidence of Burmese women. The photograph is from an album devoted almost entirely to Lord Elgin's Burma tour of November to December 1898. Victor Alexander Bruce (1849-1917), ninth Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine, served as Viceroy of India between 1894 and 1899. Another photograph in the album (print 38) is a portrait of the woman with a little girl, presumably her daughter.