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No. 117. Rangoon. Portico of the West Entrance of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

No. 117. Rangoon. Portico of the West Entrance of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

Photographer: Tripe, Linnaeus

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: Photo 61/1(117)

Item number: 611117

Genre: Photograph

Photograph by Linnaeus Tripe, from a portfolio of 120 prints, with a view of the portico of the west entrance 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. According to legend, the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, 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. It has been rebuilt several times from the 14th century onwards and the structure as seen by Tripe's mission dates from the 1770s when King Hsinbushin made many improvements to it. The ascent to the stupa on its platform is by four stairways from the four cardinal points. The western entrance and staircase was closed for a long period when the pagoda was under military use during British rule.

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