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Photograph - Mengoon pagoda from N.W (Mingun)
  • Mengoon pagoda from N.W (Mingun)
    Tripe, Linnaeus, born 1822 - died 1902
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Mengoon pagoda from N.W (Mingun)

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Burma (photographed)

  • Date:

    August 1855 - November 1855 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    salted paper print froma waxed paper (calotype) negative

  • Museum number:

    1578-1909

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This large brick pagoda was begun during the reign of King Bodawpaya in about 1790, but remained incomplete after his death in 1819. The brick base of the lower terrace is 36 metres high, one-third the size of the intended structure. In 1838 an earthquake struck the building leaving cracks and reducing sections to rubble.

Physical description

This image shows the large square pagoda with huge cracks in the brick work running from the top of the building to the bottom.

Place of Origin

Burma (photographed)

Date

August 1855 - November 1855 (photographed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

salted paper print froma 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.291 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. 97 from series 'Burma Views' by Linnaeus Tripe, 'Mengoon. Pagoda from N. W.', 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.291.

Labels and date

Mengoon Pagoda
Mengoon (Mingun), 1790–1819
By Linnaeus Tripe (1822–1902)

This large brick pagoda was begun during the reign of King Bodawpaya but remained incomplete after his death in 1819. The brick base of the lower terrace is 36 metres high, one-third the size of the intended structure. In 1838 an earthquake reduced sections to rubble. [59 words]

Albumen print, 1855
Museum no. 1578-1909 []

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

Salted paper processes

Subjects depicted

Buddhism

Categories

Photographs; Architecture; Buddhism

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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