No. 112. Rangoon. Henzas [hinthas or hamsas] on the East side of the [Shwe Dagon] Pagoda.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe, from a portfolio of 120 prints, with a view of the
hinthas or hamsas (mythical birds) atop sacred flagstaffs or dagun-daings of the
Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar). Linnaeus Tripe wrote, 'These, painted in bright colours diapered with gold and silver (traces of which still remain) must have had a very gay appearance. Henza [hintha] staves are attached to all pagodas'. The hintha bird (or hamsa in Sanskrit) features in many Jataka tales: the stories which narrate details of the Buddha's previous lives. 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. The Shwe Dagon stupa on Singuttara Hill is Burma's most significant Buddhist monument, of great national importance. Traditional history states that it was founded in the 6th century to enshrine eight hairs from the Buddha's head. Its documented history begins from the 14th century from which time a succession of rulers rebuilt it or made improvements to it.