Freight handlers and the thousands of tons of rice which they have unloaded, Rangoon, Burma
Photographer: Underwood and Underwood
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of freight handlers unloading rice at Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar). The prints show two lines of labourers with their baskets, posed in the yard of a rice mill next to a hill of rice. A caption is printed on the reverse of the mount: “Look at the mountain of rice these petticoated Burmans have unloaded from freight steamers that have floated down the Irrawaddy, gathering in the crop from alluvial plains along the way! And this is but a fraction of the crop. Over 80% of the cultivated area is now given up to paddy culture. More than 2,000,000 tons of rice are exported in a season. (“Paddy” is the term applied to growing rice.)” The photographs are from a collection of 36 stereoscopic views of Burma, one in a series of "stereoscopic tours" of foreign countries published as the ‘Underwood Travel Library’. Stereoscopic views became enormously popular from the mid-19th century onward as they enabled observers to imagine that they were really “touring” around distant parts of the world. Each pair of views, made using a special camera with two lenses, is mounted on stout card for insertion in a stereoscope or binocular viewer. This device creates the illusion of a single three-dimensional image in the mind of the observer by using the binocular function of human sight to combine the two images, which are seen from fractionally different viewpoints. The photographs in this set are generally of high quality and selected for their clarity and instructive value. As well as the captions, a few of the mounts also have instructions (presumably for the guidance of teachers) as to what general topic the photographs illustrate.