View of the palace at Ava - 2016.66.30_1


View of the palace at Ava

Maker: Clement Williams (28 December 1833-26 June 1879)
Medium:albumen print
Geography: Inwa (Ava), Myanmar (Burma)
Date: 1861-1863
8.2 × 8.6 cm
Object number: 2016.66.30
Credit Line: Gift of David Strachey
Not on view
DescriptionThis image shows the palace complex at Ava, including the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery (Me Nu Ok Kyang, Me Nu's Brick Monastery). The palace at Ava was built on the site of an ancient Burmese city that had been capital of the country under multiple dynasties. The city was finally abandoned in 1839 when an earthquake destroyed many of the buildings. The Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery was built in 1818 by Queen Nanmadaw Me Nu and is unusual and recognizable because it is made of brick while most monasteries are made of teakwood. It was seriously damaged in the 1839 earthquake, and then restored by Queen Sinbyumashin in 1873. This photograph is an albumen contact print from a collodion glass plate negative.

Dr. Clement Williams (28 December 1833 – 26 June 1879) arrived in Burma in 1858 as an assistant surgeon with the 68th Light Infantry. After mastering the Burmese language, he settled in Mandalay by mid-1861 and gained the confidence of King Mindon. In 1863, he was appointed Britain’s first political agent in Upper Burma. That same year he led an expedition up the Irrawaddy River to Bhamo, later publishing an account of his travels, Through Burma to Western China. After quitting the army in 1865, he worked briefly for the newly established Irrawaddy Flotilla Company before going into business for himself as a buying agent for the king. In 1879, en route between Burma to England, Williams died of typhoid outside Florence. Like many doctors familiar with working with chemicals. Clement Williams was an early amateur photographer, as recounted in his book. Until 2017, however, there were no images positively attributed to him. Thanks to gifts from his nephew, Louis Allan Goss (1846-1933), and Goss’s heirs, they now are in the collections of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) in Cambridge, UK, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.

If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.