Mysore Tiger Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber sword was sold for a whopping $17.4 million at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London.
WHO BOUGHT THE SWORD?
Bonhams auction house did not disclose the identity of the buyer, but said it was a private collector. They said two phone bidders and another bidder contested for the sword. A private collector was the earlier owner of the sword. He acquired it from a Sotheby’s auction in 2005. Before that, the sword was in the possession of Major General David Baird’s family for over 200 years.
Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra said that it was one of the most astonishing objects Bonhams has had the privilege of bringing to auction. “It is a stupendous price for a stupendous piece. I am so thrilled for our teams that worked so hard to deliver this result,” the CEO said.
Bonhams Head of Islamic and Indian Art and auctioneer Oliver White claimed that the sword was the greatest of all the weapons linked to Tipu Sultan. White said the sword was very personal to the Sultan.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE SWORD?
A special steel called Wootz, which mainly consists of crystals carbon, makes the sword. This rips through the opponent armour. The hilt has circular disc pommel, oval grip, small knuckle guard, short quillings and small langets damascened all over in gold in floral design. The steel blade is inscribed and bears verses from the Holy Quran along with the name of Tipu Sultan and his capital Srirangapattanam. The sword also has tiger heads worked in gold and tiger stripes on the hilt.
MORE ABOUT TIPU SULTAN
Tipu Sultan, generally known as ‘Mysore Tiger’ ruled the Kingdom of Mysore in South India between 1782 and 1799. He was born on November 20, 1750 in Devanahalli, India, to Hyder Ali and Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa. He was a pioneer of rocket artillery. He also introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including a new coinage system and calendar, and a new land revenue system. He fought against the British East India Company and their allies in four Anglo-Mysore Wars. Though he won in the second war, he lost his life and half of his kingdom in the fourth war. He also fought against the Marathas, Sira, and rulers of Malabar, Kodagu, Bednore, Carnatic, and Travancore. He sent emissaries to foreign states, including the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British. He died on May 4, 1799 in Seringapatam leading his troops in the breach when British-led forces stormed his capital.