Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

Late Konbaung Myanmar and the English Wars (1824-1885AD)

- 1953
The "Second Princess", daughter of King Thibaw

The "Second Princess" (Ashin Hteik Su Myat Paya-lat), daughter of King Thibaw was just two years old when she accompanied her parents from Mandalay into exile in 1885. In October 1916 she eloped and married U Khin Maung Lat (a former Mandalay courtier) and together they lived the rest of their lives, apparently peacefully and happily, in Kalimpong (in the Himalayan foothills, near Darjeeling), where they managed a small diary farm. This is a little known photograph of the couple...

1870s
Kolai San Thabue, one of the first students from Burma to the United States

This is a photograph of Kolai San Thabue, one of the first students from Burma to the United States. He was an Pwo Karen from Bassein and arrived in the US sometime in the later 1870s. His entire story is not clear to me but he studied at Chicago University and Kalamazoo College before going on to Michigan State College (now University).Apparently he ran into financial trouble his sophomore year at Chicago and this photograph is from an appeal on...

1880s
A favourite daughter of King Mindon: Thiri Padma Devi, the Princess of Naungmon.

The portrait was taken at Mandalay palace in early 1880s when she was in her 20s.

late 19th Cen.
Late 19th Century Myanmar men’s dress

Here is a good example of late 19th century Myanmar men's dress (before the longyi, the taik-pon and the English shirt ain-gyi), from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

1880s
The "Hairy Family" of Mandalay

I'm not sure if many people in Myanmar (or outside of Myanmar) are aware of the strange tale of the "Hairy Family" of Mandalay. They were once world-famous. It started with a boy, found in the uplands of Laos, later named Shwe Maung, brought to the Court of Ava by King Bagyidaw. He and his descendents then lived at the royal court, where they were educated and made money by exhibiting themselves to visiting Europeans, until the fall of Mandalay...

19th century
Late 19th Century Myanmar Men's Costume

Late 19th century men's costume now at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. (The "taikpon" and "longyi" combination is a colonial era creation).

July 1813 - 1850
Judson’s life

The missionaries Adoniram and Ann Hesseltine Judson of Massachusetts first arrived in Burma in July 1813. Ann (in picture) would die in 1825 at Amherst (now Kyaikkami) of smallpox. Adoniram Judson was imprisoned during the First Anglo-Burmese War but then released and continued to live in Burma until his death in 1850. He wrote the first English-Burmese dictionary. In addition to Judson College and the Judson churches in Myanmar, there are at least three dozen churches named after him in...

3 February 1822 - 30 June 1908
The birthday of the Kinwun Mingyi (3 February 1822 – 30 June 1908)

Today is the birthday of the Kinwun Mingyi (3 February 1822 – 30 June 1908).The Kinwun Mingyi (U Kaung) was Burma (Myanmar)’s leading reformer in the 1870s and early 1880s. He was a scholar, diplomat, and the author of numerous works of literature, history, and jurisprudence. Like many in his generation, his vision was of a modern, independent Burma, that would mix the best of the old and the new, importing the latest ideas and technology, whilst also protecting and...

9 December 1824
A turning point in the First Anglo-Burmese War

On 9 December1824 forces of the East India Company under General Sir Archibald Campbell stormed the last major stockade in Rangoon, killing or wounding nearly a thousand defenders. It was a turning point in the First Anglo-Burmese War. The drawing shows the attack on the stockade, which was at Kamayut, very close to where the Junction Square shopping centre is today.

24 February 1826
The Treaty of Yandabo

24 February is a black letter day in Burmese history. The Treaty of Yandabo was signed on 24 February 1826 by Sir Archibald Campbell, representing the East India Company and Maha Minhla Kyawhtin, the Myoza of Legaing, ending the First Anglo-Burmese War. The war had begun with aggression on both sides. By 1826 however, the king's forces had been utterly defeated. 15,000 British and Indian troops and tens of thousands of Burmese were dead. Hundreds of Burmese and Shan princes...

20 December 1853
Second Anglo-Burmese War

On 20 December 1853 the British East India Company defeated the forces of the king of Burma and annexed Rangoon and Lower Burma to their Indian empire. Whereas one could argue that both sides were to blame for the start of the First Anglo-Burmese War, this second war was a fairly straight forward case of imperial aggression. It was the first campaign of Garnet Wolseley (later Field Marshall Viscount Wolseley) who would go on to distinguish himself in battlefields from...

1854
Sir Arthur Phayre and the Myoza of Magwé in Calcutta

Another image of early diplomacy: A watercolour of Sir Arthur Phayre and the Myoza of Magwé in Calcutta 1854. In the early years of his reign, King Mindon tried desperately to persuade the British to return Lower Burma, which had been seized during the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852-3). In 1854 he sent one of his most powerful ministers the Myoza of Magwé (a minister to the very influential senior queen) as his envoy to the Marquess of Dalhousie, then Governor-General...

1855
“Ameegalay”

A watercolour portrait of "Ameegalay" by the British artist Colesworthy Grant, 1855."Ameegalay" was the younger daughter of the Sitke of Prome. Colesworthy Grant was the official artist attached to Sir Arthur Phayre's 1855 mission to Amarapura and the court of King Mindon. Prome was one of their stops on the way from Rangoon to Amarapura.

October 1855
The U Bein bridge October 1855.

The photograph was taken by Linnaeus Tripe during the mission of Sir Arthur Phayre to King Mindon's court at Amarapura.

1856 - 1857
First contact with Burmese and US governments

The very first contact between the governments of Burma and the United States were probably the letters sent from King Mindon in 1856-7 to Presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan (and their Secretaries of State). King Mindon hoped the Americans would agree to a bilateral treaty and that this treaty would help provide some protection against further British aggression. This is a copy of the letter to President Buchanan. Note the traditional designation of the country as "the kingdoms of...

1856 - 1915
Irish monk of Myanmar

There is a the long and colourful history of relations between Myanmar and Ireland and the many Irish men and women that have played a role in Burmese affairs. Perhaps one of the most unusual was U Dhammaloka (original name unknown), who was born to a poor family in Dublin in the 1856, he migrated to the United States, made his way on the first trains across America, then traveled by steamship to Japan before winding up in Rangoon just...

1 January 1859
King Thibaw's birthday

1 January 1859 is the birthday of King Thibaw who is the 41st son of King Mindon and the Laungshe Queen, 11th and last king of the Konbaung dynasty, regnal title Thiri Pawara Ditya Lanka Wizara Nanda Yatha Tilawkadhipati Pandita Maha Dhamma Razadhiraza, assumed the throne October 1878, deposed by the British November 1885, died in exile 19 December 1916 age 57.A controversial choice and a controversial king, he nevertheless presided over a reformist government that tried desperately to modernize...

13 December 1859 - 1925
HM Queen Supaylat, the Last Queen of Burma (Myanmar)

HM Queen Supaylat, the Last Queen of Burma (Myanmar) was born 13 December 1859 she became the ""Middle Palace Queen"" of King Thibaw at the age of 19. During her seven years on the throne she fought attempts by reformist ministers to curtail royal authority (especially royal spending). She also fought to limit the number of queens and royal concubines.British propaganda portrayed her as a decadent tyrant, dominating her husband and opposed to all change. Negative images of the king...

1860s
A young member of the famous "Hairy Family of Mandalay".

This portrait was probably taken in the 1860s. At least three generations of this family suffered from what may have been congenital hypertrichosis universalis. They were patronized and protected by the Burmese kings from the 1820s until the the fall of Mandalay. They were later exhibited as circus freaks by PT Barnum in London and then in the US. I believe the little girl in the photograph is Ma Phon, who died in Washington DC in 1888, a long way...

August 1866
The assassination of the Prince of Kanaung

In August 1866 the course of Burmese history changed forever with the assassination of the Prince of Kanaung (in the photograph).The Kanaung Prince was the younger brother and partner in government of King Mindon. He was also the Crown Prince. Together they set out to transform government, modernise the country, and defend its independence. Under the Kanaung Prince's direction, dozens of students were sent to Europe, including for military training the army was overhauled, modern factories, including for arms and...