Posted on: 29 June 2012

The Elephant Pen, and Wild Elephant taming - 1855

Watercolour with pen and ink of the taming of a wild elephant in a large wooden arena at Amarapura from 'A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855' by Colesworthy Grant. This album consists of 106 landscapes and portraits of Burmese and Europeans documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878).

The mission took place after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation by the British of the Burmese province of Pegu (Bago). It was despatched by the Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie on the instructions of the East India Company, with the aim of persuading King Mindon to sign a treaty formally acknowledging the extension of British rule over the province. The mission started from Rangoon (Yangon) and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to the royal capital of Amarapura. It was headed by Arthur Phayre with Henry Yule as Secretary. Grant (1813-1880) was sent as official artist and Linnaeus Tripe as photographer. Together with a privately-printed book of notes, Grant's drawings give a vivid account of the journey, and a number were used for illustrations to Yule’s ‘A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855’ published in 1858. This sketch records a traditional Burmese spectacle.

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