One of the common Carts of the country bringing in fodder [to Mandalay]
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a bullock cart loaded with fodder outside the city walls of Mandalay 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 under the title ‘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’. The album was issued in two editions, 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. The Burmese king, Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885), was deposed and exiled to India and a military occupation of the city began. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886. A caption by Hooper accompanying the photograph describes the image: “The carts themselves consist of little more than a pair of wheels on an axle connected by a pole with the yoke. The fodder, which forms the load, on the top of which the cart-man is perched, consists of the Jowarree or Millet described in No.42 [photo no.312/(46)]. This picture was taken on the road passing along the south face of the city. Being beyond the South Gate it has not, as yet, been found necessary to expend labour or capital on the road, and it therefore remains for the present in the condition in which we found all the roads; some idea may therefore be formed from this photograph of what that condition was.” In the background of the image can be seen the south moat and one of the battlemented, spire-topped walls of Mandalay, built in the late 1850s as a huge square fortress. 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.