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One of the Ancient Pagodas in Pagan. It is built on a cruciform plan with entrances facing N, SE and W

One of the Ancient Pagodas in Pagan. It is built on a cruciform plan with entrances facing N, SE and W

Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1886

Shelfmark: Photo 312/(68)

Item number: 31268

Length: 10.1

Width: 15.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Ananda Pagoda at Pagan (Bagan) in Burma (Myanmar), taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1886. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86), published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. Two editions were issued, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, along with a set of lantern slides. Hooper made the series while serving as Provost Marshal with the British Expeditionary Force, which entered Mandalay, the Burmese royal capital, on 28 November 1885 and subsequently occupied the city. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886 and the exile of King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) and Queen Supayalat to India. Capital of the first kingdom of Burma from the 11th to the 14th century, Pagan lies some distance to the south of Mandalay on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia, with the remains of over 2000 stupas, temples and monasteries scattered over a 30 km radius on a great plain. One of the most venerated of Pagan's temples, the Ananda commemorates Buddha's Infinite Wisdom (Anantapanna). Its style is of the Early Period and it is dated to c.1105. A caption by Hooper accompanies the photograph: “This pagoda is built on a cruciform plan, with entrances facing N., S.E. and W. It is a very remarkable building…in a wonderful state of preservation. Being enclosed with a high brick wall, the photograph had to be taken from a slight elevation some distance off, and could not therefore be done on a larger scale. The whole country round for miles is covered with the remains of old brick Pagodas; there are said to have been 9,999 of them, and it certainly appears probable that this is not beyond the mark. The group in the foreground consists of a party of Burmese mounted Police whom it was advisable to take out on the occasion, as there were numerous small bands of Dacoits about at that time who might have interfered unpleasantly with the taking of the picture.” Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the war in Burma are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. The series is also notable for the political scandal which arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the ethical role of the photographer in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war.

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