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View of the Palace, [Mandalay], taken on the same day as the former photographs

View of the Palace, [Mandalay], taken on the same day as the former photographs

Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1885

Shelfmark: Photo 312/(22)

Item number: 31222

Length: 14.6

Width: 19.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Nandaw (Royal Palace) at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar) taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper on 28 November 1885. The print is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86) made by Hooper while serving as Provost Marshal with the British army. The Burma Expeditionary Force entered Mandalay on 28 November, taking King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) prisoner and beginning an occupation of the city. Shortly after the king was sent into exile in India with Queen Supayalat, where he died in 1916, and the war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886. A caption by Hooper accompanying the photograph describes the palace, also shown in photos 312/(20) and (21) from this collection: “It is built almost entirely of teak, gilded, in most parts, both inside and out, and inlaid with pieces of looking-glass and various coloured stones and glasses. Some of the carving is very fine…The tall spire seen in the photograph is the ‘Thooyahma,’ or seven roofs, which rises directly over the throne, and is considered by the Burmese as the centre of the Universe. The Palace, which is in the centre of the city, is surrounded by two enclosures, the inner one made of brick, the outer, which is a quarter-of-a-mile square, of huge teak posts 12 feet high, planted upright in the ground and forming a strong palisade, with gates opening north, south, east, and west.” Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the Burma war are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. They were 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’. There were two editions, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, and a set of lantern slides was also issued. 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 dacoits. 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.

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