Inside Audience Hall where ambassadors used to approach the King, Mandalay, Burma
Photographer: Underwood and Underwood
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900, of a view in the Great Audience Hall in the Nandaw (Royal Palace) at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar). The palace was built by King Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78) when Mandalay was founded as the new royal capital in 1857, and stood at the centre of the walled city. It was one of the first buildings to be constructed and re-used many parts of the teak buildings from the old royal capital of Amarapura. These prints show a view of magnificent gilded pillars in the Great Audience Hall, which was situated at the eastern end of the palace facing the main city gate, with a group of monks crouched in the foreground. Along with the rest of the palace it was destroyed by fire during Allied bombing raids in 1945 during the Second World War but has since been partially reconstructed. 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.