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Connecting 'Unseen Burma' with picture postcards

Through painstaking sleuth work, Thai author recaptures a lost society

A photo from Thweep Rittinaphakorn's book, "Unseen Burma: Early Photography 1862-1962." The caption in the book reads "Shan Boys at Novitiation Ceremony." (Courtesy of Thweep Rittinaphakorn)

BANGKOK -- Thweep Rittinaphakorn, a Thai scholar, has spent the better part of two decades rifling through old bookshops, sifting through colonial records and boxes of discarded photographs and travelogues, and combing through magazines at flea markets in Myanmar, India, and Europe, especially England. The result of his labors is "Unseen Burma: Early Photography 1862-1962," recently published by River Books.

The book showcases more than 300 archival photographs and effectively serves as a time capsule of a Burma that no longer exists in today's Myanmar. It is divided into three chapters and the timeline spans four historical periods -- royalty, colonization, independence and earlier military takeover.

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