Burmese glass mosaic [Shwe Dagon Pagoda], Rangoon
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe (c.1845-1911)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of glass mosaic decoration on a shrine at the Shwe Dagon Paya (Pagoda) in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar), taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in the 1890s. This is a general view of the shrine on the platform of the Shwe Dagon, showing intricately carved spandrels and eaves in teak, and pillars covered in mirrored glass mosaic. These were important ornamental elements used on Burmese temples to symbolise the heavenly realm and to create an impression of luxury and magnificence. The Shwe Dagon is Burma’s most revered Buddhist shrine, and contains many lavishly and richly decorated buildings. A small group of Shans is posed in front of the shrine. The Shans, one of Burma's many ethnic groups, are of Tai-Chinese stock. They originally migrated here from south-west China. Klier was known as a specialist in art photography and his work was published in art books. He was interested in portraying images of glass mosaics, woodcarving and other crafts of Burma. In fact he later became a dealer in arts and crafts such as silverware and furniture.The photograph is reproduced as Plate 4 in Harry L. Tilly, 'Glass Mosaics of Burma' (Rangoon, 1901), and there captioned 'Base of main shrine facing the east'.