The Glass Palace, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Glass Palace in the Nandaw (Royal Palace) at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer in 1903 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. The Glass Palace was a pavilion situated in the centre of the Royal Palace, in the middle of a sequence of state rooms leading from the Great Hall of Audience at the eastern end of the palace, facing the main city gate of Mandalay, towards the private women’s apartments occupied by queens of various rank at the western end of the palace. This arrangement followed the Burmese tradition of building palaces, monasteries and houses on an east-west axis. The Glass Palace was the principal apartment in the Palace. It was divided into two rooms: The west room was the living space and bed chamber of the King. The east room contained the Bee Throne, one of eight in the palace, and was the location for the ceremony for the nomination of the Chief Queen, the celebration of the Royal nuptials and of the Burmese New Year feast among others. In his "Guide to the Mandalay Palace" (Rangoon, 1925), a later Superintendent of the Burma Archaeological Survey, Charles Duroiselle, wrote that it was “the largest and one of the most beautiful apartments of the Palace. When this apartment was new and freshly decorated and gilt, it must have been, with its iron trellis work covered with glass mosaic work corruscating in the ambient light, a very great sight.” The palace is crowned with a tiered roof, a symbolic form demarcating sacred space which was restricted to royal and religious architecture. The Royal Palace stood at the centre of Mandalay, a walled city founded in 1857 which became Burma’s last great royal capital. It was one of the first buildings to be constructed, re-using many parts of the teak buildings from the former capital Amarapura. The original palace was destroyed by fire during Allied bombing raids in 1945 during the Second World War but has since been partially reconstructed.