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Gilded flagstaff and image house in the grounds of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon, Burma

Gilded flagstaff and image house in the grounds of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon, Burma

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1900

Shelfmark: Photo 180/(6)

Item number: 1806

Length: 8.8

Width: 17.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar). The Shwe Dagon is a giant gilded stupa of legendary origins which stands at the heart of a Buddhist temple complex on a hill in Rangoon. It is the city’s most famous and revered monument. These prints show a view of ornate shrines, a temple bell, and tall flagstaffs on the temple platform with palm trees in the background. They 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 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. 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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