[A Burmese cremation.]
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe (c.1845-1911)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Burmese cremation, taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in the 1890s. This is a close view of the main pyre at a cremation. An elaborate tiered structure, it is shown on fire with spectators gathered around. Theravada Buddhism is the state religion of Burma and after death a Burmese person would usually be cremated. Monks, mourners and a band of musicians would accompany the coffin in a procession to the cemetery or place of cremation, where the pyre would be lit. The flames and smoke have been added by later retouching. Klier, of German origin, began as a professional photographer in Moulmein in Lower Burma in 1871. In a few years he had built up a considerable reputation and based himself in Rangoon. He took hundreds of photographs, mostly for Europeans, both as a memoir of their stay in Burma and to feed the great interest in pictures of the country in Europe. He was known as a specialist in art photography and his work was published in art books. He was interested in portraying images of mosaics, woodcarving and other crafts of Burma. In fact he later became a dealer in arts and crafts such as silverware and furniture.