[Portrait of a] Burmese maiden.
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a young Burmese girl taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in Burma (Myanmar) in the 1880s, part of the Gladstone Collection. Klier (1845-1911), of German origin, started his career as professional photographer in 1871 in Moulmein. He specialised in art photography, his work was published in art books, and he eventually became a dealer in arts and crafts. In this posed studio portrait with a painted backdrop, the young girl looks into the distance with a cheroot in her hand. She wears a hta-mein (wrap-around skirt) and a jacket. The material of her dress and its style are simple. During the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885) of Burma's last kings, rich jewellery and fine fabrics such as silk were reserved for court officials and their wives by sumptuary laws. After the fall of the Burmese monarchy and the advent of British rule in 1885, they were worn by the wealthy. Cheroots were ubiquitous in Burma, women enjoying a smoke just as much as anyone. The slow-burning cheroot (from the Indian 'charut', meaning cigarette or cigar) was filled with a mixture of tobacco and chipped wood, a filter of minced leaves from the corn plant was added and it was rolled in a dried tha-na-phet leaf (from the mountains of the Shan States). Most cheroots were produced in the Shan States in the east of Burma and the Inle area, and also made in Bago and near Mandalay. Generally, the cheroots were rolled in small family-run factories by young girls.