No. 14. Pugahm Myo [Pagan]. Shwe-Koo Pagoda. [Shwegugyi Pagoda]
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe of the Shwegugyi temple in the Pagan (Bagan) region of Burma (Myanmar), from a portfolio of 120 prints. With this portfolio of architectural and topographical views, Tripe, an officer from the Madras Infantry, created an early photographic record of Burma. The 1855 British Mission to Burma was instructed to persuade the Burmese king Mindon Min to accept the annexation of Pegu (Lower Burma) following the Anglo-Burmese War of 1852. It was also the intention of the British to collect information about the country. They travelled in Burma from August to early November 1855, stopping at various places to allow Linnaeus Tripe, the official photographer, and the mission's artist, Colesworthy Grant, to perform their duties. Capital of the first kingdom of Burma from the 11th to the 14th century, Pagan is one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia, with the remains of over 2000 stupas, temples and monasteries scattered over a 30 km radius. The Shwegugyi or Great Golden Cave is not one of the largest of Pagan's monuments but is an elegant structure on a high brick platform with its history recorded on two stone slabs set in the inner walls. The inscription dates the building to 1131 and states that the construction took only seven and a half months. It is considered one of the finest poetic works in Burmese literature. Tripe wrote of this view, 'Or 'Golden Cave'. A good miniature specimen of the most decorated style of Pugahm architecture. It contains some remarkable inscriptions, and dates from around A.D. 1500'. The Shwegugyi's donor was Alaungsitthu (ruled 1112-67).