No. 59. Amerapoora. S. Ditch of the City Wall.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe showing the south ditch of the city wall of Amarapura in Burma (Myanmar), from a portfolio of 120 prints. Tripe, an officer from the Madras Infantry, was the official photographer attached to a British diplomatic mission to King Mindon Min of Burma in 1855. This followed the British annexation of Pegu after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. Aside from official duties, the mission was instructed to gather information regarding the country and its people. Tripe's architectural and topographical views are of great documentary importance as they are among the earliest surviving photographs of Burma. Amarapura, on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) river, was twice the capital of the Burmese kings of the Konbaung dynasty: from 1782 (the year of its foundation by King Bodawpaya) to 1823 and again from 1837 to 1860, after which Mandalay, 11 km to the north, became capital. Amarapura was designed upon a square mandala, or diagram illustrating cosmological ideas. Each of the twelve city gates, three along each wall, was surmounted by a Burmese style pavilion known as a pyat-that. The city was encircled by a moat, inside which the streets were built upon a grid pattern. Linnaeus Tripe wrote of Amarapura, 'The city is nearly a square of a mile each side surrounded by a brick wall and a wide ditch. A pagoda dominates at each corner...The ditch continues for the east, south, and part of the west and north sides. On the latter sides men were at work completing the circuit'.