View taken on a stream at Schdor, near the foot of the Shan Hills
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a river view at Schdor near the foot of the Shan Hills in Burma (Myanmar), taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper on 12 January 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, along with 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. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886 and the exile of King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) and Queen Supayalat to India. However resistance to British rule in Upper Burma continued for several years after the annexation. Hooper described the scene at Schdor in an accompanying caption: “There is only a small village at this place, but it is an exceedingly pretty spot. The force which went up to Zee-bin-Zee camped here on the night of the 12th January, on their way back to Mandalay; next morning we started at 8, and again had to run the gauntlet at Thumboo Bridge. We lost one man killed and had six or eight wounded, and, as on the way out, could do but little in return on account of the denseness of the jungle.” 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.