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No. 107. Rangoon. Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

No. 107. Rangoon. Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: Photo 61/1(107)

Item number: 611107

Genre: Photograph

Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe, from a portfolio of 120 prints, with a general view of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda (covered in scaffolding), with smaller pagodas in the foreground, at Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar). In 1855 a British mission was sent to King Mindon Min of Burma to negotiate a settlement regarding Pegu, annexed by the British after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. Linnaeus Tripe was the official photographer on this mission and his architectural and topographical views of the country form an important record. Tripe wrote of this image, 'Taken from the N.W. corner of the platform. The scaffolding of bamboo, so much like basketwork, was put up by the Burmese to enable them to regild the Pagoda; an operation which will cost them about £15,000.' According to traditional history, the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the most revered of all the Buddhist monuments of Burma, was founded in the lifetime of the Buddha as a reliquary to enshrine eight hairs from his head brought back from India by two merchant brothers, Tapissa and Balika. While the core of the stupa may be very ancient, the whole is relatively more recent. King Binnya U of Pegu (1353-85) had it rebuilt to 60 ft (18 ms) in height. During the 15th century it was rebuilt several times, eventually reaching 90 ms (it now stands at about 100 ms). During this period the tradition of gilding the stupa was begun under the aegis of Queen Shinsawbu (1453-72), who donated her own weight in gold (40 kgs). British troops occupied its precincts in 1824 and again in 1852 and it remained under military control until the 1920s.

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