1868 - 1905
Thangyet Wun U Myu
This is a rare portrait of the Thangyet Wun U Myu (later styled Mingyi Minhla Maha Sithu Kyaw), a scion of an old family of Ava nobility and was one of the first Burmese to be educated in Paris. He obtained a degree in engineering at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1868 and later returned for further study in France in the 1870s.
U Myu cheld different posts in Mandalay, leading King Mindon's efforts to build the country's first factories, but his main contribution was as a diplomat. He assisted the Kinwun Mingyi's historic tour of Europe in 1871 and was part of diplomatic missions to Calcutta in 1875 and Simla in 1881. King Thibaw appointed him Burma's first ambassador to Paris in 1885, only months before the fall of the kingdom. During the two weeks before the fall of Mandalay, he tried desperately to rally diplomatic support from other European powers. Though the French had signed a treaty of friendship, in the end they did nothing to help.
With the monarchy overthrown, U Myu was left stranded in Paris together with his staff and 22 Burmese state scholars. He was eventually able to return and received a small pension. He died in 1905, aged 62. Like so many of his generation who were educated in Europe, British rule meant his career was suddenly cut short and that he was denied the chance to make his full contribution to his country.
This rare photograph of Thangyet Wun U Myu was taken in 1875 during the Calcutta mission led by the Kinwun Mingyi. U Myu was then 32 and had just returned from France.