By World News Report
A gem-studded sword, pistols, three-pounder cannon, quivers, and helmets — owned by Tipu Sultan, were sold in London for a total of more than £6 million.
The Bonhams Islamic and Indian art sale was organised by the world’s largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques.
The 30 items came from Tipu Sultan’s personal collection. ‘Tiger of Mysore’ as Tipu Sultan the ruler of Mysore was called was a relentless warrior, scholar, soldier, and poet. He vowed not to sit on his elaborate throne until he had vanquished the British.
‘I would rather live one day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep’ he declared and valiantly fought the British until his death in 1799.
He was one of the first Indian kings who died defending his homeland against the British. After his death, the British Army’s National Army Museum classified Tipu Sultan as one of the 10 Greatest enemies that the British Army ever faced including Napoleon Bonaparte and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Not just in India he is regarded as a hero in Pakistan too. The Pakistan Navy named one of his ships as PNS Tippu Sultan after him.
Tipu had a great fascination for the Tiger (babri). The tiger-stripe design adorned most art, banners as well as arms and weapons of his time. He got French engineers to build a mechanical tiger that is now on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The British soldiers took away the sword and the ring used by him in his last battle at Sri Rangapatnam as war trophies. That was till, Vijay Mallya purchased the sword of Tipu Sultan and other historical artifacts from an auction in 2004 and brought them back to India.
The highlight of this sale was a rare gem-set sword with tiger’s head pommel from Tipu royal regalia, estimated to be worth £60,000-80,000. It sold for £2,154,500.
Similarly a three-pounder cannon with field carriage sold for £1,426,500 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000.
Apart from these there was a magnificent two shot flintlock sporting gun from Tipu’s personal armory worth around £100,000-150,000 sold for £722,500.
The collection – featured sabers, trophy swords, arrow quivers, helmets, blunderbusses, fowling pieces and sporting guns– each and every weapon a work of art in its right.
“Bonhams is delighted with the outcome of the sale,” Claire Penhallurick said.
“We were fielding bids from all around the world. Apparently connoisseurs recognized that these treasures from Tipu’s armory are astonishing works of art – and they were prepared to do what it took to acquire them” Penhallurick said.
Claire Penhallurick, Head of the Indian and Islamic Department at Bonhams, said: ‘This excellent collection of Tipu Sultan’s arms and armor was of the greatest historical significance. For collectors, it was an unrivaled opportunity to acquire objects closely associated with this extraordinary, innovative man who continues to hold enormous fascination across the world.”
The Islamic and Indian sale as a whole achieved £7.4 million.