Biographical or Historical Note
- Vernay’s trip to Upper Burma in 1935 occurred during what could be called
the ‘golden age’ of scientific expeditions, aiming to represent both the
indigenous cultural and animal inhabitants of far away regions.
Arthur S. Vernay’s trip to Upper Burma in 1935 occurred during what could be
called the ‘golden age’ of scientific expeditions, aiming to more accurately
represent both the indigenous cultural and animal inhabitants of far away
regions. Vernay had noted that although there were surveys of Burma conducted in
the past, there was no evidence of any study north of Singkaling Hkamti (north
of the Chindwin River). It seemed only natural to Vernay that he would begin
where these studies left off. By the time the AMNH had secured the necessary
expedition members and supplies, however, legalities concerning expditions had
changed throughout Britain’s colonies due to species conservation practices,
reconfigured landscape ownerships, and native subsistence practices. Thankfully
these restrictions on big game hunting were of little worry to Vernay and
Hopwood, as the goals of their 1935 expedition would be considered a ‘survey
mission’ over all else. The wildlife specimens collected would not encroach
dwindling poulations, only serve as a representation of established norms. Henry
C. Raven’s expertise in both print and moving picture photography along with the
experience of the expedition’s members maintained a cultural delicacy in
conjunction with ensured minimal impact on the natives, their animals, and their
livelihoods. Along with natural specimens, Vernay's 1935 Chindwin expedition
also returned with an invaluable selection of plaster 'life masks' of men,
women, and children of various ages and Burmese tribes.
Vernay chose a diverse team to include on the expedition along the Chindwin
River. Henry Raven, Lead Scientist and principle photographer was on hand to
assist in collection and documentation for the AMNH; Major Guy Rowley, who was a
former officer in the Indian army and experienced shikari; Col. Randolph C.
Morris, an old friend of Vernay, was a sportsman-naturalist, wildlife
conservation pioneer, and authority on the big game of India; Stephen F.
Hopwood, Chief conservator of forests for the colonial government of Burma; and
Charles S. McCann, Assistant curator of the British Museum (Natural History),
Editor of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (a publication
Vernay relied heavily on for information on Burma), and established shikari.
Sadly, out of the dozens of Yunnanese muleteers, Burmese guides, and other
native assistants that helped Vernay and his team explore the region, Tha Det,
Raven’s assistant in Rangoon, was the only one to be referenced by name. (1)
Henry Raven spent time aboard the S.S. Rohna with Ranolph Morris in May and June of 1935 en route to Madras, where they arrived
on June 30th. During that voyage Raven photographed East Indian passengers in portraits that documented men, women, and children
and their life on the ship. Morris mentions their passage on the S.S. Rohna in his article published in the Journal of the
Bombay Natural History Society in April of 1936 (3) following a description of their search for a rhinoceros.
(1) Erin Hasinoff, Confluences: An American Expedition to Northern
Burma, 1935 (New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History,
Material Culture 2013).
(2) T. Donald Carter, “The Mammals of the Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin
Expedition, Northern Burma ,” Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History
volume 82, article 4 (1943): 99-113.
(3) R.C. Morris, "To Malaya for a Rhinoceros," Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society volume 38, number 3 (April, 1936):
- 1935 Janurary 8: Rangoon
- 1935 January 10: Moguang
- 1935 January 10: Nanyaseik
- 1935 January 10: Collecting had begun by McCann and Stanford. 110 mules were outfitted
for the journey., Nanyaseik.
- 1935 January 15: Lonkin
- 1935 January 15: Team visited and explored Jade mines., Lonkin.
- 1935 January 19: Tawmaw
- 1935 January 20: Mansum
- 1935 January 26: Gora
- 1935 January 26: Trail to Gora crossed the upper Uyu River., Gora.
- 1935 January 28: Pumsin
- 1935 January 30: Tasu bum
- 1935 January 30: At 4200 ft above sea level, this site was the highest point reachech
throughout the expedition., Tasu bum.
- 1935 February 1: Tapa Hka
- 1935 February 3: Tumri Hka
- 1935 February 4: Dalu
- 1935 February 5: Taga Hka
- 1935 February 5: Visited by Rowley and Morris; located the foot of the Naga Hills,
west of the Cindwin River., Taga Hka.
- 1935 February 7: Lahkaw Hka
- 1935 February 7: Visited by Morris and McCann, where a salt spring was found in the
depth of the forest. Tracks of elephant, guar, sambar, and tiger were
also found. , Lahkaw Hka.
- 1935 February 11: Dalu
- 1935 February 11: Returned to Dalu., Dalu.
- 1935 February 12: Partip Gorge
- 1935 February 12: Trip taken by Vernay, Morris, Hopwood, and Rowley., Partip Gorge.
- 1935 February 13: Dawazup
- 1935 February 13: Trip taken by Vernay, Morris, Hopwood, and Rowley., Dawazup.
- 1935 February 15: Dalu
- 1935 February 15: Returned to Dalu., Dalu.
- 1935 February 16: Rangoon
- 1935 February 16: Hopwood returns to Rangoon, taking with him the specimens already
collected and 58 of the mules. , Rangoon.
- 1935 February 18: Lakchang Ga
- 1935 February 18: Small party leaves Dalu for a short trip down river. , Lakchang Ga.
- 1935 February 19: Rasa
- 1935 February 19: Journey continues down river. , Rasa.
- 1935 February 20: Janka
- 1935 February 20: Party divides: Vernay and Rowley continue down the stream in boats,
while Morris, Raven, and McCann continue down the west bank of the
Chindwin wth the mules.
- 1935 February 20: Reached at noon., Janka.
- 1935 February 20: Reached around mid afternoon.
- 1935 February 23: Chen-ga Hka
- 1935 February 23: Party reconnects and travels together., Chen-ga Hka.
- 1935 February 24: Hai Bum
- 1935 March 3: Sailung
- 1935 March 3: Sailung is along the Chindwin. Here the party paid off the muleteers
and continued the journey in twin dugouts connected by bamboo
- 1935 March 4: Sinkaling Hkamti
- 1935 March 4: Vernay and Rowley met the rest of the party here, having gone ahead
the previous day. , Sinkaling Hkamti.
- 1935 March 6: Hahti
- 1935 March 6: Vernay, Morris, Raven, and Rowley leave for Hahti to visit the Naga
head hunters. , Hahti.
- 1935 March 10: Equipment is loaded onto the twin dugouts and the entire part
proceeded down the Chindwin. Collecting was carried on, on both sides of
- 1935 March 12: Kaunghein
- 1935 March 12: Camp pitched on the west side of the river., Kaunghein.
- 1935 March 13: Moklok
- 1935 March 13: Party spent the night in Moklok., Moklok.
- 1935 March 14: Munsin
- 1935 March 14: Phawzaw
- 1935 March 14: Arrived in the afternoon and continued onward., Munsin.
- 1935 March 14: Camp pitched on a sandbank. , Phawzaw.
- 1935 March 17: Tamanthi
- 1935 March 17: Party took use of Tamanthi's post and telegraph offices to reconnect
with civilization. , Tamanthi.
- 1935 March 18: Sinnaing
- 1935 March 18: Party traveled down stream collecting on both sides of the river.
Sinniang was reached by evening. Night travel down the river was
continued with the use of head lamps. , Sinnaing.
- 1935 March 20: Hulaung
- 1935 March 20: Maungkan
- 1935 March 20: Night camp pitched at Maungkan. , Maungkan.
- 1935 March 21: Homalin
- 1935 March 21: Kawya
- 1935 March 21: Vernay and Raven left in small boats for a quick run to Homalin,
while the rest of part followed more leisurely (arriving the evening of
March 22), collecting along the way. , Homalin.
- 1935 March 21: Night camp pitched at Kawya. , Kawya.
- 1935 March 22: Homalin
- 1935 March 22: Rest of party arrives. , Homalin.
- 1935 March 28: Mawlaik
- 1935 March 28: Party boarded a steamer and arrived in Mawlaik in the evening. Here,
another steamer was boarded., Mawlaik.
- 1935 April 5: Rangoon
- 1935 April 5: Party arrives. (2), Rangoon.
dates: 1935 Janurary 8
dates: 1935 January 10
dates: 1935 January 10
dates: 1935 January 15
dates: 1935 January 19
dates: 1935 January 20
dates: 1935 January 26
dates: 1935 January 28
- Tasu bum
dates: 1935 January 30
- Tapa Hka
dates: 1935 February 1
- Tumri Hka
dates: 1935 February 3
dates: 1935 February 4
- Taga Hka
dates: 1935 February 5
- Lahkaw Hka
dates: 1935 February 7
dates: 1935 February 11
- Partip Gorge
dates: 1935 February 12
dates: 1935 February 13
dates: 1935 February 15
dates: 1935 February 16
- Lakchang Ga
dates: 1935 February 18
dates: 1935 February 19
dates: 1935 February 20
- Chen-ga Hka
dates: 1935 February 23
- Hai Bum
dates: 1935 February 24
dates: 1935 March 3
- Sinkaling Hkamti
dates: 1935 March 4
dates: 1935 March 6
dates: 1935 March 12
dates: 1935 March 13
dates: 1935 March 14
dates: 1935 March 14
dates: 1935 March 17
dates: 1935 March 18
dates: 1935 March 20
dates: 1935 March 20
dates: 1935 March 21
dates: 1935 March 21
dates: 1935 March 22
dates: 1935 March 28
Morris disembarked to do some collecting in town, while McCann continued
on to Pantha.
Steamer stopped here.
Party disembarked and boarded a train for Rangoon.
dates: 1935 April 5