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Willoughby Wallace Hooper
A Baker's Shop in the Chinese quarter of the town. It is not perhaps a very inviting place, nevertheless the bread made in Mandalay is exceedingly good
10 x 14.9 cm
Shelfmark: Photo 312/(83), Item number: 31283
Curatorial description (Accessed: 27 February 2017)
Photograph of a baker’s shop in the Chinese quarter of Mandalay in 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. Chinese communities had existed for many centuries in rural Burma and were largely formed by migrants travelling overland from China into Burma along the north-eastern trade routes. The urban Chinese population originated during the colonial era when Chinese from the coastal provinces of China came by sea to work as merchants, among other professions. The Chinese quarter in Mandalay was near the King’s Bazaar, on the south side of B Road. A caption by Hooper accompanying the photograph describes the shop: “It is not perhaps a very inviting looking place, nevertheless the bread made in Mandalay is exceedingly good. Bread is much eaten by the Burmese, besides various kinds of cakes and chupatties, a sort of pancake or girdlecake: the man on the left is making one of these while the other man is tending the pot over the furnace.” 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.