1854 Burmese Painting  

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Techniques-Gouache on paper, with decorations picked out in gold paint, mounted on card
Place-Calcutta, India
Dimensions-Height 18.5 cm (unmounted),Length 23.8 cm (unmounted)
Current Location- Victoria & Albert Museum
Museum number-IS.181-1950

This is one of three paintings (IS.179-1950, IS.180-1950) which illustrate the visit of the Burmese King Mindon's envoy to Calcutta in 1854.

At the end of 1854, following the second Anglo-Burmese war of 1852, after which southern Burma fell to British rule, the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r. 1853-1878) sent his ambassador Ashin Nanmadaw Payawun Mingyi on an embassy of good will from his court at Amarapura to Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, in Calcutta. Sir Arthur Phayre, Commissioner of British Burma, accompanied the mission and acted as interpreter.

These three watercolours which were presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum by the great niece of Sir Arthur Phayre allow us to witness the pomp with which Burmese ministers travelled, through the eyes of a Burmese court artist who accompanied the mission.

At his second meeting in Calcutta, the ambassador, shown with his entourage carrying his swords, gold umbrellas and receptacles of rank, is seen strolling hand in hand with Phayre. He is portrayed in his elaborate and distinctive military court dress worn with a shweipei hkamauk (helmet) and a mauk-yu (skullcap), on this occasion wearing shoes with his pahsoe (type of sarong) drawn up to resemble breeches. This was one of two sets of robes (one civil and one military) which would have been presented to him, following his appointment, to indicate his rank.

This entry was posted on Feb 22, 2009 at Sunday, February 22, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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