Largest of Buddha statues (181 ft) - the Teacher finding Peace in Death - Pegu, Burma
Photographer: Underwood and Underwood
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of the Shwethalyaung Image, a monumental reclining Buddha sculpture, at Pegu (Bago) in Burma (Myanmar). The Shwethalyaung image is the most venerated of the large-scale Buddha sculptures in Burma. It dates from 994 AD, in the reign of the Mon king Migadepa II, and is 55 metres (180 ft) long and 16 metres (52 ft) high. It had become lost after the destruction of Pegu in the 18th century, and overgrown with vegetation, but was rediscovered in the 19th century. 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 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 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.