The lower part of C road, leading from the SW Gate of the City to the river, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of "C" Road in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), leading from the south-west city gate to the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River, taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1886. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86), published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. Two editions were issued, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, and a set of lantern slides. Hooper made the series while serving as Provost Marshal with the British Expeditionary Force, which entered Mandalay, the Burmese royal capital, on 28 November 1885. King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) was deposed and taken prisoner, and a military occupation of the city began. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886 and the exile of Thibaw and Queen Supayalat to India. Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min (ruled 1853-78) near Mandalay Hill, an ancient sacred site, and the Irrawaddy. It was built as a square citadel surrounded by a moat, with the royal palace at its heart and entrance gates on all four walls. Hooper describes the scene in a caption accompanying the print: “This is the road down which funerals used to go to the burying-ground, a little lower down on the left. The particular spot shewn in this picture is the place where, in the late King’s time, criminals used to be executed be being trampled to death by elephants; the wooden buildings on the right and left being the ‘reserved seats’ for the spectators who attended these displays of barbarous justice in large crowds.” Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the war in Burma are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. The series is also notable for the political scandal which arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the ethical role of the photographer in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war.