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Funeral rites for a Buddhist Archbishop - coffin in elephant shaped car - Mandalay, Burma

Funeral rites for a Buddhist Archbishop - coffin in elephant shaped car - Mandalay, Burma

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1900

Shelfmark: Photo 180/(14)

Item number: 18014

Length: 8.8

Width: 17.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of the funeral procession for a senior Buddhist monk at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar). An elephant-shaped carriage is surrounded by a crowd of mourners and has a tiered bier or howdah on its back which carries the monk's coffin. Theravada Buddhism is the state religion of Burma and after death a Burmese person would usually be cremated. Monks, mourners and a band of musicians would accompany the coffin in a procession to the cemetery or place of cremation, where the pyre, often elaborate structures such as this elephant, would be lit. The photographs are from a collection of 36 stereoscopic views of Burma, one of a series of “stereoscopic tours” of foreign countries published as part of 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 produces 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 prints in this set are generally of high quality and selected for their clarity and instructive value. A few of the mounts also have a detailed descriptive caption printed on the reverse, with instructions (presumably for the guidance of teachers) as to what general topic the photograph illustrates.

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