The Cemetry [sic] from Western Bemaru.
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph with a view taken from Bimaru or Bemaru, a village at the north east corner of the Sherpur Cantonments at Kabul, Afghanistan, by John Burke, 1879-80. The ridge at the eastern end of which the village stands, known as the ‘Bimaru Heights’ formed the north side of the Sherpur enclosure and was a feature of much military importance in both the First (1839-42) and Second Afghan Wars (1878-80). In the last campaign the village itself was utilised first as a defensive post and subsequently as the transport headquarters of the British Army.
It is part of a series of images forming the Afghan War albums which provided a visual document of the country and resulted in Burke achieving renown as the first significant photographer of Afghanistan and its people. The British became involved in Afghanistan, trying to create a buffer state and protect their Indian empire in the face of Russian expansion in Central Asia. The Anglo-Russian territorial rivalry created what came to be known as the Great Game between the powers. In 1878 Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan, despite being rejected for the role of official photographer. He financed his trip by advance sales of his photographs 'illustrating the advance from Attock to Jellalabad'. In his two-year expedition in Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War, Burke became the foremost photographer of the region where the strategies of the Great Game were played out. In a latter phase of the war, from October 1879 to the summer of 1880, British troops (the Kabul Field Force) under General Roberts occupied Kabul. Burke stayed here for too for many months, photographing the city and its inhabitants.