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Willoughby Wallace Hooper
Another shop in King's Bazaar, [Mandalay]
10 x 15 cm
Shelfmark: Photo 312/(81), Item number: 31281
Curatorial description (Accessed: 27 February 2017)
Photograph of a shop for earthenware in the King's Bazaar in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 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 Burmese king, Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) was deposed and exiled to India and a military occupation of the city began. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886. The King’s Bazaar was situated on the south side of B Road, a main thoroughfare outside the city walls. A caption by Hooper accompanying the photograph describes the shop depicted: "This is a Chatty Shop, and in it are sold all sorts of earthen waterpots, or chatties, and goglets [sic] for holding drinking water, which, being porous, keep the water cool in the hottest weather. Hanging up are earthen teapots and small baskets for drawing water used in this country, they are made of basket-work covered with lacquer, cross pieces of wood being fastened to the sides to act as a handle; though primitive, they answer the purpose for which they are intended very well.” 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.