Phoongyis returning from begging their daily food [Burma]
Photographer: Beato, Felice (1825-c.1907)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Burmese Buddhist monks returning from collecting offerings of food, taken by Felice Beato in c.1890. This view shows the monks, called pongyis, posed in a group carrying bowls. They wear monastic robes and their hair is tonsured. Theravada Buddhism is the state religion of Burma. Although practised here from possibly as early as the 3rd century BC, it became established during the reign of King Anawrahta in the 11th century. Buddhist monks are accorded a reverential status by Burmese society and the monkhood or Sangha occupies an important place in the country’s religious and secular life. Collecting offerings of food from the local community is a daily ritual for the pongyis. The photograph is from an album devoted almost entirely to Lord Elgin's Burma tour of November to December 1898. Victor Alexander Bruce (1849-1917), ninth Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine, served as Viceroy of India between 1894 and 1899.