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Arakan by Forchhammer, E 1891

This material was originally published in 1891, a year after Forchhammer died, according to a reference to it in Harvey’s 1926 “History of Burma”. A new impression was made in the 1970s by the Burmese Education Ministry: the minister at that time was Arakanese, and passionate about the history of his native province. The original plates and artwork were presumably lost by this time. A somewhat damaged copy of the 1891 book has been
used to make a new set of offset plates. If the original had a title page, it had either disappeared from the original copy or was deliberately excluded from the reprint. The book was renamed “Report on the Antiquities of Arakan” and the year was put as 1892 on a typewritten slip of paper bound into the sub-title page. The publisher of the reprint is sometimes cited as "Archaeology Department, Burma", although as the department was established in 1902, it could not have been the publisher of the 1891 version. The reprint was bound in soft blue paper.

Some photographs are missing from the reprint. It is possible that they originally appeared as individual photos stuck on the plates, perhaps in an attempt to provide high quality illustrations for a book with a limited print run. For example, Plate IV No 7 is missing, and the blank space is marked with a small pencilled cross, perhaps by the owner of the book that was used for the reprint. Two complete pages of plates, XII and XIII, pictures from the Shittaung pagoda, are also missing. Original copies of the book may still have these plates, and all the illustrations. On the first page of the text in the 1970s edition are two marks in ink, circling an incorrect 20 miles as the distance from Vesali to Mrohaung, and an incorrect 10th century as the date for King Anawratha. These were presumably also made by the owner of the book that was used for the reprinting. This circling of the 20 on page 1 is instantly diagnostic of the reprint. In the original book, the numbering on Plates I to VIII starts from No 1 oneach plate. From Plate X, No 1, picture numbers then continue in sequence. Pencilled changes to the numbering by the owner of the copy version have been reproduced in the reprint, but they do n ot match the references in the text, and are best ignored.

I am still trying to get hold of an original copy of the book to compare it with the reprint. There are versions (seen on WorldCat) at SOAS, Indiana University, National Art Library (V&A) London, Newberry Library Chicago and Northern Illinois University, but their online catalogues all use the 1970s title, and mention the paper insert. The Archaeology Dept library in Rangoon also holds a 1970s copy. The 1891 (?92) original might be hardbound, perhaps with a tissue overlay to protect the plates. In 1926, Harvey referred to copies of the book at the Bodelian (it’s not in their online catalogue), the British Museum (their copy was transferred to the British Library, which will not give it out on international loan) and the India Office and Oxford India Institute Libraries. The SOAS journal has a reference to Forchhammer, Emil. 1892. Papers on Subjects Relating to the Archaeology of Burma: A Report on the History of Arakan. Rangoon: Government Press. A collection called Papers on Subjects Relating to the Archaeology of Burma dated 1891 or 92 is in the Yale, Cambridge and Leiden libraries. The Leiden catalogue mentions that this contains “Notes on early history and geography of British Burma” (1891), but does not specify Arakan. The “Notes” title also appears with Forchhammer’s separate works on the Shwedagon and Suvannaphumi.

To keep the book of the name of 'Arakan by Forchhammer, E 1891', click the above picture and can download it.
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