No. 68. Amerapoora. Wild Elephant Palace.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe of the enclosure for wild elephants at the palace of 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 regarding the little known 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 laid out in a square with a moat surrounding its brick walls. There were 12 gates in the walls and the palace was in the centre of the city. Most of the palace buildings were removed in their entirety to Mandalay by King Mindon. Tripe wrote, 'It is hither that the fresh caught elephants are brought to be tamed, for the diversion of the King. The present King, however, is said, to be averse to amusements of the kind'.