No. 65. Amerapoora. Mohdee Kyoung.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe of a kyaung (monastery) at Amarapura in Burma (Myanmar), from a portfolio of 120 prints. 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. Its brief was also to collect detailed information about the country. The Mission spent a little over three months 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. 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 the site of the first British Embassy to Burma in 1795, and played host again to Tripe's Mission. The city 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. The accompanying letterpress explains that this view is, 'From the S.E. corner of the enclosure. A good example of a kyoung with its pyat-that [tiered roof]'.