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Photograph - Nagayoung Pagoda, Amerapoora
  • Nagayoung Pagoda, Amerapoora
    Tripe, Linnaeus, born 1822 - died 1902
  • Enlarge image

Nagayoung Pagoda, Amerapoora

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Burma (photographed)

  • Date:

    August 1855 to November 1855 (photographed)
    1857 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tripe, Linnaeus, born 1822 - died 1902 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    albumen print from waxed paper (calotype) negative

  • Museum number:

    1534-1909

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The large naga, or serpent, towering over the roof gives this white stone pagoda its name.It shelters the central shrine containing a Buddha image, while two long nagas border the staircase. The pagoda, built between 1800-50, symbolises the story of the Naga Mucalinda, who is said to have sheltered the Buddha during a storm.

Linneaus Tripe created one of earliest photographic records of Burma (Myanmar). His reputation as a photographer developed in India where he was employed in the East India Company army. Appointed to accompany the first British diplomatic mission to Burma in 1855, he was instructed to record information about the country. Tripe took over 100 images, demonstrating his skill in observation and composition. He used calotypes or paper negatives, which gave the prints a ‘soft-focus’ look.

Physical description

This images shows the striking nagayoung pagoda. The large naga, or serpent, towers over the roof. There is an arched entrance to the left of the main structure. The sky area is very faint with very little colour tone.

Place of Origin

Burma (photographed)

Date

August 1855 to November 1855 (photographed)
1857 (printed and published)

Artist/maker

Tripe, Linnaeus, born 1822 - died 1902 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

albumen print from waxed paper (calotype) negative

Object history note

This photograph was one of a series from 'Burma Views' which was presented to the V&A in July 1909 by Lady Ida Low, wife of Malcolm Low, Esq., of the Bengal Civil Service and daughter-in-law of General Sri John Low. As a member of the Council of India in 1857, Sir John Low received the Burma Views (1857) set on 15th April 1857.
See Registry files for papers on acceptance of gift.
See Dewan p.260 for listings of other copies of the same photograph elsewhere.

This photograph was published in the album Burma Views 1857, by Captain L. Tripe, official photographer to the Government of India's Mission to Ava [Burma]. Tripe made over 200 photographs during this trip, and the captions to the images are thought to be a collaboration between Tripe and the secretary to the Mission to Ava, Henry Yule.

Tripe’s Burma Views were distributed widely and were very well received. Tripe sent 50 copies to Calcutta. Fourteen sets from these were distributed by the Government of India, including seven sets to members of the Mission to Ava, former capital of Burma. Twenty sets were ordered by the East India Company’s Court of Directors, and most were given to members of the Court. It is not known what happened to the remaining sixteen sets. Due to Tripe’s ownership of the negatives, he printed a selection of his photographs for further distribution. A set of 92 views of Burma was given to the King of Prussia, and more sets were given to the Madras Photographic Society and associated figures. Two hundred and ninety additional prints were offered for sale at 2 Rupees per print at Griffiths and Co., Madras.

Historical significance: After his series of Burma photographs made in 1855, Tripe went on to become Government Photographer for the Madras government. He produced significant works that function as both records and works of art. These are some of the earliest record photographs of Burma.

It was hard work to produce photographs in the 1850s, particularly in the heat of India. Tripe was under pressure to produce them quickly, and evidently would have preferred more time and better working conditions. He wrote an accompanying disclaimer for the albums:
‘The accompanying Views…in justice to him as a Photographer employed by the Government of India, should not be looked upon as a challenge to Photographic criticism; but as a series of views of subjects interesting on account of their novelty…As excuses too, for these defective photographs he would wish it known, that he was working against time; and frequently with no opportunities of replacing poor proofs by better. Also that, from unfavourable weather, sickness, and the circumstances unavoidably attending such a mission, and actual working time was narrowed to thirty six [sic] days’ (This note is photographed in Dewan, p.211).

Historical context note

In April 1855 Lord Dalhousie, governor general of India, advised on a political trip to Amerapoora, Burma following the annexation of Pengu (part of Burma) by the British after the 1852 Anglo-Burmese war. Tripe was sent to accompany the party in 1855 as official photographer. The photographs he made during his stay resulted in his album of 122 images, Burma Views, published in 1857. These photographs result from this project, and have Tripe’s original numbering and titles on their mounts.

Descriptive line

Photograph, 19th century, No. 53 from series 'Burma Views' by Linnaeus Tripe, 'Amerapoora. Nagayoung Pagoda', albumen print, Burma, 1855

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Dewan, Janet. The Photographs of Linnaeus Tripe: A Catalogue Raisonné. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2003, p.260.

Labels and date

Nagayoung Pagoda (Nagayon)
Amerapoora (Amarapura), 1800–50
By Linnaeus Tripe (1822–1902)

The large naga, or serpent, towering over the roof gives this white stone pagoda its name. It shelters the central shrine containing a Buddha image, while two long nagas border the staircase. The pagoda symbolises the story of the Naga Mucalinda, who is said to have sheltered the Buddha during a storm.

Albumen print, 1855
Museum no. 1534-1909 []

Production Note

Edition number unknown. This print was probably made to go into the album 'Burma Views', of which 50 full sets were produced. Additional prints were produced by Tripe for different sets of Burma images.

Techniques

Calotype

Subjects depicted

Buddhism

Categories

Photographs; Architecture; Buddhism

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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