Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

King Mindon

A favourite daughter of King Mindon: the Princess of Naungmon.

H.R.H. the Princess of Natmauk and Naungmon (Natmauk Naungmon Minthami) is the daughter of HM King Mindon and HM Tharazin Myoza Minbura. Eventually she was raised to Thuriya Mallavadi and then promoted to the title Thiri Padma Devi. Born at the palace in Mandalay in 1859, died during the British occupation. The portrait was taken at Mandalay palace in early 1880s when she was in her 20s.

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Amarapura

Amarapura was founded on 13 May 1783 by King Bodawpaya. The Konbaung dynasty was then less than a quarter century old and at the very height of its power. The Konbaung had devastated Siam and defeated the armies of Qing China. They would go on to conquer the Arakan, Manipur, Assam, Jaintia and Cachar. Tens of thousands of captives were brought to the Irrawaddy valley, especially from Manipur and present-day Thailand and Laos. Manipuri and Cachari horsemen were organized into...

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The birthday of the Kinwun Mingyi

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...

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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...

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The Penultimate King

Mindon is remembered by many Burmese as their last great king and among the most devout patrons of Buddhism ever. He is remembered for his innumerable works of merit, the monasteries and pagodas he built, the thousands of monks he sponsored, and his convening of the Fifth Great Buddhist Synod in 1871. The synod was billed as the first of its kind in twenty centuries, bringing together twenty-four hundred monks, including several from overseas, in a grand attempt to review...

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“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.

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The dawn of Myanmar-US relations

Official Myanmar-US relations began in 1856 with a letter from King Mindon to Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States. King Mindon's modernization drive was then in full swing. Over the next 15 years he tried to reform all aspects of government, fundamentally changing the revenue system and reforming administrative structures, minted coins, sent students to Europe (and appointed them to high positions on their return), setup the first factories and expanded the oil industry (one of the...

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The first student from Myanmar to study in US

The first Burmese student to come to America (and perhaps the first Burmese ever in America) was Maung Shaw Loo, who traveled from his native Moulmein to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 1858, just before the Civil War.  The photo was taken in the little town of Goshen, Indiana c. 1865. Maung Shaw Loo left Burma in 1857 aged 17 for studies in Calcutta. During the Indian Mutiny in 1858 he stowed away on a ship for America; when discovered he managed...

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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...

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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, develop the economy, and defend the country's independence. Under the Kanaung Prince's direction, dozens of students were sent to Europe, to study science and engineering and for military training; the army was overhauled;...

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Prince of Myingun

HRH the Prince of Myingun, on 2nd August 1866, rebelled against his father King Mindon, killing his uncle the Prince of Kanaung and a number of high officials. His rebellion lasted several weeks and was crushed only after considerable bloodshed. The Prince of Kanaung had been the kingdom's leading reformer and his death crippled efforts to modernise the army and other royal institutions. This photograph of the Myingun Prince was taken in Saigon where he died in 1923. My great-great-great...

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“Thangyet Wun” U Myu

A rare portrait of the "Thangyet Wun" U Myu (later styled Mingyi Minhla Maha Sithu Kyaw). U Myu was a scion of an old family of Ava nobility and was one of the first Burmese to be educated in Paris, obtaining a degree in engineering at the the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1868 and returning for further study in France in the 1870s. He held different posts in Mandalay, leading King Mindon's efforts to build the country's...

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