Burmese girl with cheroot
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Burmese girl with a cheroot, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1890s. This is a full-length vignetted studio portrait, showing the girl posed standing sideways on to the viewer. The long cheroot that she holds is a typical attribute in studio portraits of Burmese women, whose habit of smoking large cigars was noted with some astonishment by European visitors, who also commented on their relative freedom, beauty and confidence. The girl wears a striped silk hta-mein (wrap-around skirt) and a close-fitting jacket of fine muslin or cotton known as an ein-gyi. Her hair is adorned with a floral headband and she wears necklaces and earrings. 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. 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.