Timber raft coming down the Irrawaddy River - the floating home of a group of natives, Burma
Photographer: Underwood and Underwood
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of a timber raft on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River in Burma (Myanmar). This view shows a group of people seated on the raft – their “floating home” - in front of a thatched shelter. Burma’s waterways have traditionally been an important means of domestic travel and communication and families often lived aboad their vessel. This raft is composed of logs lashed together which may be being transported down river to a timber yard. The prints are from a collection of 36 stereoscopic views of Burma, one of a series of “stereoscopic tours” of foreign countries published as part of the ‘Underwood Travel Library’. Stereoscopic views became enormously popular from the mid-19th century onward as they enabled observers to imagine that they were really “touring” around distant parts of the world. Each pair of views, made using a special camera with two lenses, is mounted on stout card for insertion in a stereoscope or binocular viewer. This device produces the illusion of a single three-dimensional image in the mind of the observer by using the binocular function of human sight to combine the two images, which are seen from fractionally different viewpoints. The prints in this set are generally of high quality and selected for their clarity and instructive value. A few of the mounts also have a detailed descriptive caption printed on the reverse, with instructions (presumably for the guidance of teachers) as to what general topic the photograph illustrates.