No. 113. Rangoon. Great Bell of the [Shwe Dagon] Pagoda.
Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe, from a portfolio of 120 prints, of the great bell of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda 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. 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. The Burmese have a long tradition of bronze casting and bells are an important tool of Buddhist ritual. Enormous bells had been used since the Pagan period (9th to 13th century) and bell production had been located at Amarapura since the 18th century. The Shwe Dagon Pagoda has two famous bells. King Singu Min (ruled 1776-82) had regilded the Shwe Dagon and donated a 16 ton bronze bell in 1778 known as the Maha-gandha or 'bell of great sound'. King Tharawaddy (ruled 1837-46) presented a bell of 40 tons in 1843, and it was the last royal bell made for the Shwe Dagon. The Tharawaddy bell is also known as the Maha-tissada-gandha or 'the bell which produces a great sound'. It bears an inscription in Pali and Burmese recording the deeds of the king in support of Buddhism.