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This rare album of 48 paintings depicts a range of officials and their wives from the last Burmese court at Mandalay (1853-1885). Included are grades of court officials, high ranking army officers, princes and other significant court figures of the time, including Brahmin priests, together with representatives of regional ethnic groups such as Shans. Costumes are carefully and sensitively depicted and each figure is also accompanied by his or her insignia of rank such as swords, musical instruments and betel nut containers. It is likely that the album was created on the orders of a European visitor using local court artists, and an inscription on the fly leaf reads '48 drawings each cost 5 Rs '.

The album not only provides a rare and revealing window onto a now vanished royal court but significantly illustrates and enhances the V&A's existing unique collection of 19th century Burmese court costume and regalia. Several illustrations relate directly to the dress pieces and other insignia in the collection.

The album was collected by Robert Hoe during his lifetime (1839-1909) and bears his bookplate. This American businessman was an art collector and first president of the Grolier Club, a New York society devoted to the promotion of bookmaking as an art. It was later acquired by Doris Duke the renowned collector of South East Asian art who collected Thai and Burmese objects during the 1960s.

Acquired with support from the Art Fund and the Friends of the V&A

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