No. 1. Prome. General View.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe of a panoramic view looking over the town of Prome (Pyay) in Burma (Myanmar) towards the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) river, from a portfolio of 120 prints. With the ending of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the British annexation of Pegu, the East India Company instructed the Governor-General Lord Dalhousie to persuade King Mindon Min to sign a treaty formally acknowledging the extension of British rule over the province. An abortive embassy sent to Calcutta by the King in late 1854 to negotiate the return of Pegu yielded no concrete results, and in the following year Dalhousie (with no great hope of success), despatched a British mission to attempt to negotiate a settlement. This was headed by Arthur Phayre, with Henry Yule (Under-Secretary of the Public Works Department) as Secretary. Part of the mission's instructions was to obtain accurate information about the country, culture and people of a land little-known to Europeans, and to this end Colesworthy Grant was sent as artist and Linnaeus Tripe as photographer to the mission. Tripe took some 200 architectural and topographical photographs during his time in Burma and notwithstanding his disclaimer below, many are of a very high photographic standard in addition to their documentary importance as among the earliest surviving photographs of several parts of Burma. Tripe wrote of his work: 'The accompanying views, taken by the undersigned when attached to the Embassy to Amerapoora in 1855, in justice to him as a photographer employed by the Government of India, should not be looked upon as a challenge to photographic criticism; but as a series of views of subjects interesting on account of their novelty; many having been retained solely on that account when they would certainly have been otherwise discarded. As excuses, too, for these defective photographs he would wish it known, that he was working against time; and frequently with no opportunity of replacing poor proofs by better. Also that, from unfavourable weather, sickness, and the circumstances unavoidably attending such a mission, his actual working time was narrowed to thirty six days. If criticism be provoked, it is trusted that her chiding will be mild. [Signed] L. Tripe Bangalore 20th Feby/57.'
The letterpress accompanying this photograph says: 'Taken from a height S.E. of the town. The Pagoda on the hill to the right, is the Shwe San-dau, or 'Golden Hair' one of the most sacred places in Burmah. It enshrines a hair of Gautama'.