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King Mindon's Tomb, [Mandalay]

King Mindon's Tomb, [Mandalay]

Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1903

Shelfmark: Photo 1004/1(18)

Item number: 1004118

Length: 20.5

Width: 28

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of Mindon Min’s Tomb at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar) from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken in 1903 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. Mindon Min (reigned 1853-1878) was the penultimate king of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885). He was a progressive monarch who was much admired by his people. He founded Mandalay in 1857 in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. In 1861 the court was transferred to the newly-built city from the previous capital of Amarapura and in 1872 he hosted the Fifth Great Buddhist Synod at Mandalay. Mindon was succeeded by his son Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885), the last Burmese monarch, who was exiled with his queen Supayalat to Madras in India by the British in 1885 after the annexation of Upper Burma. Thibaw erected the tomb in his father’s memory. It stood in a group of mausoleums inside the square fortress containing the Royal Palace (Nandaw), to the north of the East Gate. This view shows four royal tombs, with Mindon's in the centre. It is a square brick structure, surmounted by a tiered spire known as a pyatthat, a characteristic symbolic feature of Burmese royal and religious architecture which demarcates sacred space. The building was at first plastered over and whitewashed, later given an ornate finish with glittering mirrored glass mosaic and gilding. These forms of applied decoration were traditionally used to create an impression of magnificence in palaces, monasteries and pagodas. In his ‘Guide to the Mandalay Palace’ (Rangoon, 1925), a later Superintendent of the Burma Archaeological Survey, Charles Duroiselle, described the effect: “the peculiar feature of this tomb is that the whole surface, with the exception of the roofs of the pyatthat, is covered with glass mosaic, which, together with the gold on the ornamental carvings of the roofs, makes of this little building a thing of beauty when seen in the ambient rays of the sun or better in the soft light of the moon.”

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