Sawbwa's wife and child [Wuntho, Burma]
Photographer: Beato, Felice (1825-c.1907)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Sawbwa’s wife and child at Wuntho in Burma (Myanmar) from the Elgin Collection: 'Autumn Tour 1898', taken by Felice Beato in c.1890. The portrait was taken in front of a house at Wuntho, showing the wife and child of the Wuntho Sawbwa, a Shan feudal lord, seated on the ground with food baskets. Attendants are arranged around the pair in a semi-circle and two servants hold umbrellas over the group. The woman wears a striped silk hta-mein (wrap-around skirt), a close-fitting jacket of fine muslin or cotton known as an ein-gyi, and necklaces. During the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885), rich jewellery, fine fabrics such as silk, and garments such as her jacket were reserved for court officials and their wives by sumptuary laws. After the fall of the Burmese monarchy they were worn by the wealthy. 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.