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King Thibaw's Throne in the Palace, Mandalay

King Thibaw's Throne in the Palace, Mandalay

Photographer: Beato, Felice (1825-c.1907)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1890

Shelfmark: Photo 15/6(27)

Item number: 15627

Length: 21.2

Width: 27.9

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Lion Throne in the Royal Palace at Mandalay, probably taken by Felice Beato in c.1890. Mandalay, the second largest city in Burma, was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min (who shifted his capital here from Amarapura) and became the country's last great royal capital. Thibaw was the last king of Burma and ruled from 1878 until 1885, when Mandalay was annexed by the British Empire and he was exiled to south India together with his queen Supayalat. His throne dominated the Great Audience Hall and was one of eight in the palace. It is a magnificent gilded wooden structure topped with a pediment decorated with flaring ornamental forms known as saing-baung, derived from the haunches of a wild ox. It is decorated with floral designs, glass mosaic work and carved imagery including divine beings, astrological symbols, and lions, from which the throne takes its name. The imagery was designed to express the universality of the monarch and links the throne to the heavenly realm of Thagyamin, the king of the gods, and Mount Meru, the sacred mountain at the centre of the world in Burmese Buddhist cosmology. It dates from 1857-61 and is now in the National Museum at Rangoon (Yangon). The photograph is from an album devoted almost entirely to Lord Elgin's Burma tour of November to December 1898. Victor Alexander Bruce (1849-1917), ninth Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine, served as Viceroy of India between 1894 and 1899.

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