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Photographs Album details for shelfmark Photo 983/

John Thomson, 'The Antiquities of Cambodia. A series of photographs taken on the spot with letterpress description' (Edmonston & Douglas, Edinburgh, 1867).

Photographers: John Thomson
Contents: 40 prints Albumen prints
Provenance: Transferred from European Printed Books Collection, pressmark X.415.
Notes: Another copy in British Library Collections at pressmark 1702.a.11
Description: Half-morocco bound oblong folio volume measuring 375x280mm, with marbled endpapers and bookplate of John Murray. A bookseller's catalogue description is pasted to the verso of the front free endpaper. Acquired by the India Office Library 1911, transferred from European Printed Books to Prints, Drawings and Photographs Section, 1996. The published work consists of an introduction, general description and detailed notes on the 16 illustrations (two of which are three-part panoramas, the total number of separate images being therefore 12). This particular copy has an additional 28 prints pasted in, making a total of 40 separate photographs. In this catalogue the prints have been numbered in a straight sequence from 1-40, the three-part panoramas being counted as a single image. Some of the extra prints included in this volume have been inserted between images in the published version; the following list cross-references prints in this catalogue with the photographs as they appear in the published version (listed by Thomson in Roman numerals). All other prints are the extra illustrations and are marked by an asterisk in the main catalogue listing:
1. I-III
2. IV
3. V
4. VI
5. VII
9. IX
10. X-XII
15. XIII
19. XIV
24. XV
25. XVI

Although the great temple of Angkor Wat was known to the west, and several accounts of it had appeared over the years, it was the French naturalist Henri Mouhot who first excited European interest in and drew attention to the site. His exploration of Angkor Wat and the city of Angkor Thom in 1860 was recounted in the posthumously published 'Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China (Siam), Cambodia, Laos, during the years 1858, 1859, and 1860' (2 vols, London, 1864). The importance of Thomson's work lies in its vivid evocation of the scenes described by Mouhot, whose book had initially inspired him to visit Cambodia. His visual record of Angkor is the first photographic documentation of the site. Thomson's reasons for travelling to Angkor and his account of the journey itself, can be found in his introduction to the volume:

'During the beginning of the year 1865, while resident in Singapore, I resolved to visit Siam, with the object of making myself better acquainted with the country, its people, and its products, in consequence of the interest excited in me by reading the late M. Mouhot's 'Travels in Indo-China, Cambodia, and Laos,' and other works to which I had access. The description given in M. Mouhot's work of the magnificence of the ruined cities which the author found in the heart of the Cambodian forests induced me not only to carry out my resolution of visiting Siam, but to cross the country, and penetrate to the interior of Cambodia, for the purpose of exploring and photographing its ruins.
I had been in Bangkok, the cpital of Siam, about five months, when Mr Kennedy [Henry George Kennedy, appointed a student interpreter in Siam in 1863], of H.B.M. Consulate, volunteered to join me in the expedition to Cambodia. We left Bangkok on 27th January 1866. Besides the photographic apparatus and chemicals necessary for the wet collodion process, I carried with me a set of astronomical instruments, which proved useful during the journey, and subsequently, in obtaining the bearings and measurements of the great buildings in Moung Siam-raburee. A brief outline of our routes may be given in a few sentences. Entering the Klong Kook Mie Creek at Bangkok, we passed eastward through a sparsely populated country, a distance of about 40 miles, to the Baupakong River. Rivers, creeks, and canals form a perfect network of communication...all communicating with the main stream, the great Menam River, which parts the country of Siam into nearly equal halves...At Kabin we left our boats to begin a weary overland journey, lasting nearly a month, and completely exhausting our stock of provisions and our strength. About ten days before we reached our destination, I had an attack of jungle fever, which left me so weak that I was for some time unable to walk. Had it not been for the care and attention of Mr Kennedy, I felt that in all probability I must have met the fate of M. Mouhot, and perished in the jungle. Our mode of travel varied according to circumstances...ponies harnessed in the rudest fashion, buffalo waggons that were continually breaking down, and being repaired with the materials which the forest or jungle might supply, causing us to halt for hours, not infrequently at midday, in a stunted forest, or on a shelterless prairie, with the vertical rays of a tropical sun beating down upon our heads...After crossing the head of the great fresh-water lake of Cambodia (Tale Sap), our passport from the Siamese Government procured us elephants, on which we travelled north from the lake, a distance of about 15 miles, to Siam-rap-buree...It had occupied us exactly a month to reach the Cambodian frontier; with a line of rail across the country, the transit could be accomplished in a day...The journey, however, with all its hardships, was not devoid of interest, as we had passed through some of the most exquisite river and forest scenery of the tropics, offering boundless attraction in common to the artist, the naturalist, and the sportsman.
As the advancing dry season was rapidly exhausting the pools upon which the traveller in Siam and Cambodia depends for his supplies of water, it would have been fatal for us to have attempted returning by the same route. We therefore, after exploring the ruins, and penetrating to the Lychie Mountains (whence the stone used by the Ancient Cambodians must have been obtained), descended the Tale Sap to Pnomb Pinh, the capital of Cambodia...When His Majesty [King Mongkut] heard that we had determined to return by the Gulf to Bangkok, he ordered that a suitable escort should conduct us on elephants to Kampot, and that the Government should furnish a boat for our return voyage up the Gulf of Siam. We fortunately had a fair wind from Kampot, and made the run to Bangkok, a distance of about 500 miles, in five days.'

Album contents:-
Photo 983/(1) I-III. Western Front of Nakhon Wat. [Panoramic view of Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(2) IV. Gateway in Centre of Western Gallery [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(3) V. Part of Western Gallery [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(4) VI. Interior of Western Gallery [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(5) VII. An Inner Gallery [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(6) VIII. Part of a Reservoir [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(9) IX. Interior Ornaments of the Temple [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(10) X to XII. Westward view from the Central Tower [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(15) XIII. Bas-relief of Battle Scene [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(19) XIV. Bas-relief of Triumphal Procession [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(24) XV. Prea Sat Ling Poun [One of the towers of the Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom]. 
Photo 983/(13) *Part of a bas-relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(7) *Ancient statues in Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(8) *'Tewadah' of Nakhon Wat [apsaras, Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(11) *Part of the Ramayana bas-relief, Nakon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(12) *Part of the Ramayana bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(14) *Bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(16) *Part of bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(17) *Part of a bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(18) *Part of a bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(20) *Part of a bas relief in Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(21) *Part of a bas relief in Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(22) *Part of a bas relief in Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(23) *Part of a bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(25) XVI. Palace of the Leprous Ling [Angkor Thom]. 
Photo 983/(26) *Small pavilion, Nakhon Wat [southern library building, Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(27) *Part of ruined palace, Nakhon Thom [Angkor Thom]. 
Photo 983/(28) *General view of temple of Nakhom Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(29) *Part of Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat] 
Photo 983/(30) *Part of the central tower, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(31) *West Gate, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(32) *The seven-headed snake of Nakhon wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(33) *Unfinished pillars at Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(34) *Ornaments on the outer wall, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(35) *Part of a pavilion, Nakhon Wat [Library building, Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(36) *The statue of Phrapetam Sunbong, surviving (957) [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(37) *Statues in Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(38) *Part of a tower of Preasat Ling Poun [Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom]. 
Photo 983/(39) *Huts at Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 
Photo 983/(40) *Part of a bas relief, Nakhon Wat [Angkor Wat]. 

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