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Workmen chiseling stone images of the Buddha for Burmese shrines, Sagaing, Burma

Workmen chiseling stone images of the Buddha for Burmese shrines, Sagaing, Burma

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1900

Shelfmark: Photo 180/(24)

Item number: 18024

Length: 8.8

Width: 17.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Stereoscopic pair of photographs taken by Underwood & Underwood in c.1900 of artisans carving stone statues of seated Buddhas at Sagaing in Burma (Myanmar). Theravada Buddhism was brought to Burma from India around the 6th century BC and was adopted as the national religion in the 11th century AD. Burmese art has historically been intertwined with Buddhism and Buddha images such as those being fashioned in this view are considered its finest expression. The prints are from a collection of 36 stereoscopic views of Burma, one of a series of “stereoscopic tours” of foreign countries published as part of the ‘Underwood Travel Library’. Stereoscopic views became enormously popular from the mid-19th century onward as they enabled observers to imagine that they were really “touring” around distant parts of the world. Each pair of views, made using a special camera with two lenses, is mounted on stout card for insertion in a stereoscope or binocular viewer. This device produces the illusion of a single three-dimensional image in the mind of the observer by using the binocular function of human sight to combine the two images, which are seen from fractionally different viewpoints. The prints in this set are generally of high quality and selected for their clarity and instructive value. A few of the mounts also have a detailed descriptive caption printed on the reverse, with instructions (presumably for the guidance of teachers) as to what general topic the photograph illustrates.

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