MANDALAY (/ˌmændəˈleɪ/ or /ˈmændəleɪ/ ; Burmese :
မန္တလေး; MLCTS : manta.le: ) is the second-largest city
and the last royal capital of
Myanmar (Burma). Located 716 km (445 mi)
Yangon on the east bank of the
Irrawaddy River , the city has
a population of 1,225,553 (2014 census).
Mandalay is the economic centre of
Upper Burma and considered the
centre of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants,
Yunnan , in the past twenty years, has reshaped the city's
ethnic makeup and increased commerce with China. Despite Naypyidaw
's recent rise,
Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial,
educational and health center.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Colonial
* 2.3 Contemporary
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Location
* 4 Climate
* 5 Cityscape
* 5.1 Around the city
* 6 Administration
* 7 Transport
* 7.1 Air
* 7.2 River
* 7.3 Rail
* 7.4 Roads
Buses and cars
* 8 Demographics
* 9 Culture
* 9.1 Media
* 10 Sports
* 10.1 Sport Climbing
* 11 Economy
* 12 Education
* 13 Health care
* 14 Twin towns – Sister cities
Mandalay in popular culture
* 16 Gallery
* 17 References
* 17.1 Bibliography
* 18 External links
The city gets its name from the nearby
Mandalay Hill . The name is
probably a derivative of a
Pali word, although the exact word of
origin remains unclear. The root word has been speculated to be
mandala , referring to circular plains or Mandara , a mountain from
When it was founded in 1857, the royal city was officially named
YADANABON (ရတနာပုံ, ), a loan of the
RATANAPūRA (ရတနပူရ) "City of Gems." It was also called
Lay Kyun Aung Myei
(လေးကျွန်းအောင်မြေ, , "Victorious
Land over the Four Islands") and
(မြနန်းစံကျော်, , "Famed Royal Emerald
Mandalay Palace Grounds
Like most former (and present) capitals of Burma,
founded on the wishes of the ruler of the day. On 13 February 1857,
King Mindon founded a new royal capital at the foot of
Mandalay Hill ,
ostensibly to fulfill a prophecy on the founding of a metropolis of
Buddhism in that exact place on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of
King Mindon is the founder of
Mandalay royal capital
A bastion at
The new capital city site was 66 km2 (25.5 sq mi) in area, surrounded
by four rivers. The plan called for a 144-square block grid patterned
citadel, anchored by a 16 square block royal palace compound at the
Mandalay Hill. The 1020-acre (413-hectare) citadel was
surrounded by four 2,032 m (6,666 ft) long walls and a moat 64 m (210
ft) wide, 4.6 m (15 ft) deep. At intervals of 169 m (555 ft) along the
wall, were turrets with gold-tipped spires for watchmen. The walls
had three gates on each side, and five bridges to cross the moat. In
addition, the king also commissioned the
Kuthodaw Pagoda , the
Pahtan-haw Shwe Thein upasampada hall, the Thudamma "Good
zayats (IPA: ) or public houses for preaching Buddhism and a library
Pāli Canon .
In June 1857, the former royal palace of
Amarapura was dismantled and
moved by elephants to the new location at the foot of
although construction of the palace compound was officially completed
only two years later, on Monday, 23 May 1859.
For the next 26 years,
Mandalay was to be the last royal capital of
Konbaung Dynasty , the last independent Burmese kingdom before its
final annexation by the
British Empire .
Mandalay ceased to be the
capital on 28 November 1885 when the conquering British sent Thibaw
Min and his queen
Supayalat into exile, ending the Third Anglo-Burmese
War . The Thudamma zayats built during the reign of
COLONIAL MANDALAY (1885–1948)
Map of Mandalay, 1911
Mandalay would continue to be the chief city of Upper Burma
during the British colonial rule, the commercial and political
importance had irreversibly shifted to Yangon. The British view on the
Mandalay (and Burma) was mainly with commercial
intentions. While rail transport reached
Mandalay in 1889, less than
four years after the annexation, the first college in Mandalay,
Mandalay College , was not established until 40 years later, in 1925.
The British looted the palace, with some of the treasures still on
display in the
Victoria and Albert Museum , also renaming the palace
Fort Dufferin and used it to billet troops. Street scene
Chinatown in colonial
Throughout the colonial years,
Mandalay was the centre of Burmese
culture and Buddhist learning, and as the last royal capital, was
regarded by the Burmese as a primary symbol of sovereignty and
identity. Between the two World Wars, the city was Upper Burma's focal
point in a series of nationwide protests against the British rule. The
British rule brought in many immigrants from India to the city. In
1904–05, a plague caused about one-third of the population to flee
World War II
World War II ,
Mandalay suffered the most devastating air
raids of the war. On April 3, 1942, during the Japanese conquest of
Burma , the
Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Imperial Japanese Army Air Service carried out an
extensive assault on the city. As the city was defenseless and its
firefighting were weak that had been lost in the earlier bombing and
that they met no opposition from the British
RAF as all its aircraft
had by now been withdrawn to India, three-fifths of the houses were
destroyed and 2,000 civilians were killed. Many again fled the city
when the city was under Japanese occupation from May 1942 to March
1945. The palace citadel, turned into a supply depot by the Japanese,
was burnt to the ground by Allied bombing; only the royal mint and the
watch tower survived. (A faithful replica of the palace was rebuilt in
CONTEMPORARY MANDALAY (1948–PRESENT)
After the country gained independence from Britain in 1948, Mandalay
continued to be the main cultural, educational and economic hub of
Upper Burma. Until the early 1990s, most students from Upper Burma
Mandalay for university education. Until 1991, Mandalay
University , the
University of Medicine, Mandalay and the Defence
Services Academy were the only three universities in Upper Burma. Only
a few other cities had "Degree Colleges" affiliated with Mandalay
University that offered a limited number of subjects. Today, the city
attracts a fraction of students as the military government requires
students to attend their local universities in order to reduce
concentration of students in one place.
In November 1959,
Mandalay celebrated its centennial with a festival
at the foot of
Special commemorative stamps were
Ne Win 's isolationist rule (1962–1988), the city's
infrastructure deteriorated. By the early 1980s, the second largest
Burma resembled a town with low-rise buildings and dusty
streets filled mostly with bicycles. In the 1980s, the city was hit by
two major fires. In May 1981, a fire razed more than 6,000 houses and
public buildings, leaving more than 36,000 homeless. On 24 March 1984,
another fire destroyed 2,700 buildings and made 23,000 people
Fires continue to plague the city. A major fire destroyed Mandalay's
second largest market,
Yadanabon Market , in February 2008, and
another major fire in February 2009 destroyed 320 homes and left over
1600 people homeless.
The 1980s fires augured a significant change in the city's physical
character and ethnic makeup. Huge swaths of land left vacant by the
fires were later purchased, mostly by the ethnic Chinese , many of
whom were recent immigrants from
Yunnan . The Chinese influx
accelerated after the current
State Peace and Development Council came
to power in 1988. With the Burmese government turning a blind eye,
many Chinese immigrants from
Yunnan (and also from
Sichuan ) poured
Upper Burma in the 1990s and many openly ended up in Mandalay.
In the 1990s alone, about 250,000 to 300,000
Yunnanese are estimated
to have migrated to Mandalay. Today, ethnic Chinese people are
believed to make up about 40%–50% of the city's population that
rival the locals, and are a major factor in the city's doubling of
population from about 500,000 in 1980 to one million in 2008. Chinese
festivals are now firmly embedded in the city's cultural calendar. It
is a common Burmese complaint that
Mandalay is becoming little more
than a satellite of
China and that the romance of old
Mandalay is long
The Chinese are largely responsible for the economic revitalization
of the city centre, now rebuilt with apartment blocks, hotels and
shopping centres, and returning the city to its role as the trading
hub connecting Lower Burma, Upper Burma,
China and India. The Chinese
dominance in the city center has pushed out the rest to the suburbs.
The urban sprawl now encompasses Amarapura, the very city King Mindon
left some 150 years ago.
Mandalay celebrated its 150th birthday on 15
May 2009, at precisely 4:31:36 am.
Despite the rise of Naypyidaw, the country's capital since 2006,
Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial, educational and health
Mandalay metropolitan area seen from satellite
Mandalay is located in the central dry zone of
Burma by the Irrawaddy
river at 21.98° North, 96.08° East, 80 meters (260 feet) above sea
level. Its standard time zone is UTC/GMT +6:30 hours.
Mandalay lies along the
Sagaing Fault, a tectonic plate boundary
between the India and Sunda plates. (The biggest earthquake in its
history, with a magnitude of 7, occurred in 1956. The devastation was
greatest in nearby
Sagaing , and it came to be known as the Great
Mandalay features a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen
climate classification .
Mandalay features noticeably warmer and
cooler periods of the year. Average temperatures in January, the
coolest month, hovers around 21 °C while the warmest month, April,
averages 31 °C.
Mandalay is very hot in the months of April and May,
with average high temperatures easily exceeding 35 °C. It is not
uncommon to see high temperatures surpass 40 °C during these two
months in the city.
Mandalay also features wet and dry seasons of
nearly equal length, with the wet season running from May through
October and the dry season covering the remaining six months. The
highest reliably recorded temperature in
Mandalay is 48.0 °C (118.4
°F) on April 24, 1975 while the lowest is 7.6 °C (45.7 °F) on
December 26, 1999.
CLIMATE DATA FOR MANDALAY (1961–1990, EXTREMES 1889–PRESENT)
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE RAINFALL MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE RAINY DAYS
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
Source #1: World Meteoroglogical Organization, Meteo Climat
(record highs and lows)
Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun and relative
Mandalay Hill , at 790 ft (240 m), is home to many of Mandalay's
religious sites. The
Mandalay Palace Kuthodaw Pagoda
– Some of the 729 stupas known as the world\'s largest book
Atumashi Monastery has been rebuilt as a faithful replica of the
original destroyed by a fire. The
Yunnanese Buddhist Temple and
Mandalay is a major Chinese temple in the city.
AROUND THE CITY
Atumashi Monastery : The "Atumashi kyaung ", which literally means
"inimitable vihara ", is also one of the well known sights. The
original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1890 though the masonry
plinth survived. It was indeed an inimitable one in its heyday. The
reconstruction project was started by the government on 2 May 1995 and
completed in June 1996.
* Buddha\'s Replica Tooth Relic
Pagoda : One of the Buddha's Sacred
Replica Tooth Relics was enshrined in the
Maha Dhammayanthi Hill in
Amarapura Township. The pagoda was built
with cash donations contributed by the peoples of
Burma and Buddhist
donors from around the world under the supervision of the State Peace
and Development Council. The authorities and donors hoisted Buddha's
Replica Tooth Relic
Pagoda Mandalay's Shwe Htidaw (sacred golden
umbrella), Hngetmyatnadaw (sacred bird perch vane) and Seinhpudaw
(sacred diamond bud) on 13 December 1996.
Kuthodaw Pagoda (The World's Biggest Book): Built by King Mindon
in 1857, this pagoda modeled on the
Shwezigon Pagoda at
Nyaung-U , is
surrounded by 729 upright stone slabs on which are inscribed the
entire Tipiṭaka as edited and approved by the Fifth Buddhist council
. It is popularly known as "World\'s largest book " for its stone
Pagoda : Near the southern approach to
stands the Kyauktawgyi Buddha image built by
King Mindon in 1853–78.
The Image was carved out of a huge single block of marble. Statues of
80 arahants are assembled around the Image, twenty on each side. The
carving was completed in 1865.
Mahamuni Buddha Temple : The image of Gautama Buddha at Mahamuni
Buddha Temple is said to have been cast in the life-time of the
Gautama Buddha and that the Buddha embraced it seven times, thereby
bringing it to life. Consequently, devout Buddhists hold it to be
alive and refer to it as the Mahamuni Sacred Living Image. Revered as
the holiest pagoda in Mandalay, It was built by King
1784. The image in a sitting posture is 12 feet and 7 inches (3.8 m)
high. As the image was brought from
Rakhine State , it was also called
the Great Rakhine Buddha. The early morning ritual of washing the Face
of Buddha Image draws a large crowd of devotees everyday. The Great
Image is also considered as the greatest in
Burma next to Shwedagon
Pagoda . A visit to
Mandalay is incomplete without a visit to Mahamuni
Mandalay Hill : The hill has for long been a holy mount. Legend
has it that the Buddha, on his visit, had prophesied that a great city
would be founded at its foot.
Mandalay Hill, 230 metres in elevation,
commands a magnificent view of the city and surrounding countryside.
The construction of a motor road to reach the hill-top has already
Mandalay Palace : The whole magnificent palace complex was
destroyed by a fire during World War II. However, the finely built
palace walls, the city gates with their crowning wooden pavilions and
the surrounding moat still represent an impressive scene of the
Mandalay Palace, "Mya-nan-san-kyaw Shwenandaw", which has been rebuilt
using forced labor. A model of the
Mandalay Palace, Nanmyint-saung and
Mandalay Cultural Museum are located inside the Palace grounds.
Shwenandaw Monastery : Famous for its intricate wood carvings,
this monastery is a fragile reminder of the old
Actually, it was a part of the old palace later moved to its current
site by King Thibaw in 1880.
* The Chinese Temple of
Mandalay : The Chinese Temple, well known
for its old artistic architectures and cultural artifacts, reflects
Mandalay's old history.
Yadanabon Zoological Gardens : A small zoo between the Mandalay
Mandalay Hill . It has over 300 species and is notably the
only zoo to have Burmese roofed turtles .
Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) is the city
Mandalay District consists of seven townships.
* Chanayethazan (city centre)
* Maha Aungmye
Mandalay's strategic location in Central
Burma makes it an important
hub for transport of people and goods. The city is connected to other
parts of the country and to
China and India by multiple modes of
Mandalay International Airport
Mandalay International Airport (MDL) was one of the largest and most
modern airports in
Myanmar until the modernization of Yangon
International Airport in 2008. Built at a cost of US$150 million in
2000, it is highly underused; it serves mostly domestic flights with
the exception of those to
Kunming and to/from
Bangkok and Chiang Mai,
with daily flights on Air Asia and
Bangkok Airways. The airport has
come to represent the military regime's propensity for bad planning
and penchant for white elephant projects.
Myanmar recent opening
stance on tourism means the airport is now receiving a growing number
of visitors from
Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
The airport is far from the city, 45 km (28 mi) on a modern highway.
It costs US$8 to central Mandalay, US$6 from central Mandalay, and
US$30 to/from Pyin U Lwin. Collective minibuses to
Mandalay are US$5
each (stops where required). Before the construction of this airport,
Mandalay Chanmyathazi Airport is the main airport of the City.The
airport is serving some flights to
Ayeyarwady River remains an important arterial route for
transporting goods such as farm produce including rice, beans and
pulses, cooking oil, pottery, bamboo and teak.
Central Railway Station on 78th "> A busy street junction
BUSES AND CARS
As the government allows only a few thousands of vehicles to be
imported each year, motor transportation in
Burma is highly expensive
for most of its citizens. Most people rely on bicycles , motorcycles
and/or private and public buses to get around. The most popular car in
Mandalay is the 1982/83
Nissan Sunny pickup truck . Because of its
utility as a private bus or taxi, the two-and-a-half-decade old model
still had strong demand and heady prices to match—from K10 million
to K14 million (US$8,000 to US$11,000) in mid-2008. To get around
severe import limits, people of
Mandalay have turned to illegally
imported and hence unregistered (called "without" in
Burmese English )
motorcycles and cars despite the government's periodic confiscation
sprees. (The number of domestically made cars remains negligible.
Mandalay's small car makers produced i.e. assembled only about 3000
cars in 2007.)
In March 2008,
Mandalay had nearly 81,000 registered motor vehicles
plus an unknown number of unregistered vehicles. Although the number
of cars in a city of one million is low, traffic in
Mandalay is highly
chaotic as thousands of bicycles and (unregistered) motorbikes freely
roam around all the lanes of the streets. Unlike in
motorbikes, cycle rickshaws and bicycles are prohibited from entering
downtown and busy areas, in
Mandalay it is anything goes. That many
traffic lights in
Mandalay do not work only adds to the chaos.
A 2007 estimate by the UN puts Mandalay's population at nearly 1
million. The city's population is projected to reach nearly 1.5
million by 2025. While
Mandalay has traditionally been the bastion of
Bamar (Burman) culture and populace, the massive influx of ethnic
Chinese in the last 20 years has effectively pushed the
Bamar out of
the city center. The foreign-born Chinese can easily obtain Burmese
citizenship cards on the black market.
Ludu Daw Amar of Mandalay, the
revered writer and journalist who died in April 2008, had said it felt
like "an undeclared colony of
Yunnan ". Today, the percentage of
Chinese, estimated at 40% to 50% of the city (with the Yunnanese
forming an estimated 30% of Mandalay's population), is believed to
nearly rival that of the Bamar. A sizable community of Burmese
Indians also resides in Mandalay.
Burmese is still the principal language of the city although Standard
Chinese is increasingly heard in the city's commerce centers such as
Zegyo Market . English is a distant third language,
spoken only by the urban elite.
Buddha relics from
Kanishka stupa in
Pakistan , now
in Mandalay. Teresa Merrigan, 2005
Mandalay is Burma's cultural and religious center of Buddhism, having
numerous monasteries and more than 700 pagodas . At the foot of
Mandalay Hill sits the world's official "Buddhist Bible", also known
as the world's largest book, in
Kuthodaw Pagoda . The styles of
Mandalay Buddha Images and Buddha Statues were many since King Mandon,
who was a devout Buddhist, and had filled
Mandalay with them and
through the years
Mandalay Buddhist art became established as the pure
art of Myanmar. There are 729 slabs of stone that together are
inscribed with the entire
Pāli canon , each housed in its own white
stupa . The buildings inside the old
Mandalay city walls, surrounded
by a moat, which was repaired in recent times using prison labor,
Mandalay Palace , mostly destroyed during
World War II
World War II .
İt is now replaced by a replica,
Mandalay Prison and a military
garrison, the headquarters of the Central Military Command .
Much of the media in
Mandalay – like elsewhere in
Burma – comes
from Yangon. The city's non-satellite
TV programming comes from
Yangon-based state-run TV
Myanmar and military-run Myawaddy , both of
Burmese language news and entertainment. Since December
MRTV -4, formerly a paid channel, has also been available in
Mandalay has two radio stations.
Naypyidaw -based Myanmar
Radio National Service is the national radio service and broadcasts
mostly in Burmese (and in English during specific times.)
Mandalay City FM (87.9FM) is the
area's pop culture oriented station.
The military government, which controls all daily newspapers in
Mandalay to publish and distribute its three national
newspapers , the
Myanmar Alin and
Kyemon and the
English language New Light of
Myanmar . The state-run Yadanabon is
Mandalay and serves the
Upper Burma market. The Mandalay
Daily newspaper is published by
Mandalay City Development Committee
since 1997 November 30.
Bahtoo Stadium, billboard advertising
Mandalay FM Radio
Mandalay's sporting facilities are quite poor by international
standards but are still the best in Upper Burma. The 17,000 seat
Bahtoo Stadium is largest in Upper
Myanmar before the construction of
Mandalarthiri Stadium and andsts mainly local and regional association
football and track-and-field tournaments. Since May 2009, professional
football has arrived in Mandalay, with
Yadanabon FC representing the
city in the newly formed
Myanmar National League , the country's first
professional football league. In 2013, a new stadium, Mandalarthiri
Stadium was built to host the Women Football matches of 27th SEA Games
and became the largest stadium in
Mandalay and Upper Myanmar.
Mandalarthiri Stadium Inside the Stadium
At Waterfall Hill, the first bolted rock climbing site in Myanmar
have been developed with the help of
Mandalay climbers led by Steve,
Tylor and Technical Climbing Club of
Myanmar since 2010.
Chinese blankets for the
Mandalay is the major trading and communications center for northern
Burma . Much of Burmese external trade to
China and India
goes through Mandalay.
Among the leading traditional industries are silk weaving, tapestry ,
jade cutting and polishing, stone and wood carving, making marble and
bronze Buddha images, temple ornaments and paraphernalia, the working
of gold leaves and of silver, the manufacture of matches, brewing and
Chinese immigrants have increasingly dominated Mandalay's economy
since the imposition of sanctions by the United States and the
European Union in the 1990s.
See also: Category:Universities and colleges in
Mandalay has the best educational facilities and institutions, after
Burma where state spending on education is among the lowest
in the world. Students in poor districts routinely drop out in middle
school as schools have to rely on forced "donations" and various fees
from parents for nearly everything – school maintenance to teachers'
salaries. Many wealthy
Mandalay parents enroll their children in the
city's English language private schools for primary and secondary
education and Chinese and Singaporean universities for university
education. Some wealthy Chinese families also send their children to
"cram schools" where students study for entrance exams into Chinese
universities from 6am to 8am, then to government high schools from 9am
to 3pm, and finally preparation classes for Singapore GCE O levels
from 4pm to 9pm.
For the rest of the students who cannot afford to go abroad for
Mandalay offers Upper Burma's best institutions of higher
education. The city's
University of Medicine, Mandalay , University of
Mandalay Technological University and
University of Computer Studies, Mandalay are among the nation's most
selective universities. The vast majority of university students in
Mandalay attend liberal arts universities:
Mandalay University , the
oldest university in Upper Burma, and
Yadanabon University .
List of hospitals in Mandalay
The general state of health care in
Burma is poor. The military
government spends anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of the country's GDP on
health care, consistently ranking among the lowest in the world. In
2005, the public health care system of
Mandalay Region with over 7.6
million people consisted of slightly over 1000 doctors and about 2000
nurses working in 44 hospitals and 44 health clinics. Over 30 of the
so-called hospitals had less than 100 beds. Although health care is
nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and
treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack
many of the basic facilities and equipment.
Mandalay remains the main health care center for Upper
Burma as almost all of large public hospitals and private hospitals
are in Mandalay. The city has ten public hospitals and one hospital
specializing in traditional Burmese medicine. For a semblance of
adequate health care, the well-to-do from
Upper Burma go to private
hospitals and clinics in Mandalay. For more advanced treatments, they
have to go to
Yangon or abroad. The wealthy Burmese routinely go
Bangkok or Singapore) for treatment.
TWIN TOWNS – SISTER CITIES
Mandalay is twinned with:
Cirebon , Indonesia
Kunming , China
Phnom Penh ,
MANDALAY IN POPULAR CULTURE
Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "
Mandalay " (1890), which is the
origin of the phrase "on the road to Mandalay". In 1907, the poem was
set to music by
Oley Speaks as "On the Road to Mandalay". Speaks'
version was widely recorded. Among the best known renditions is the
Frank Sinatra on Come Fly With Me .
The large hotel/casino/convention center
Mandalay Bay in
Las Vegas is
named for the city, despite the fact that the city is 500 kilometers
from the nearest bay, perhaps in reference to the line in Kipling's
poem, "An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer
China 'crost the Bay!
George Orwell was stationed at
Mandalay for a time while working for
Indian Imperial Police in Burma, and his first novel, Burmese Days
(1934), was based on his experiences in Burma. He also wrote a number
of short non-fiction essays and short stories about Burma, such as "A
Hanging " (1931) and "
Shooting an Elephant " (1936). John Masters
wrote a book about his wartime experiences in
Burma called The Road
Maha aung mye bon zhan monastery in
A view from
Another view from
Mandalay Palace Watch Tower
The "Hman Nan" Building inside
Mahamuni Buddha, A Rakhine masterpiece
Shwe Kyaung, a famous monastery
View from Sutaunppyei
Pagoda in the
Now defunct old
Myanmar Thingyan Festival in front of the City Hall
The front of the Palace
Mandalay early Thingyan Festival
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to MANDALAY .
Mandalay travel guide from Wikivoyage
* See also nearby Pyin Oo Lwin, the historic hill station above
Mandalay in 1885–1888 – the letters of James Alfred Colbeck"
(PDF). (107 KiB ) SOAS
Mandalay Gallery with