Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber sword sold for Rs 143 crore at London auction

Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber sword sold for Rs 143 crore at London auction
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By India Today World Desk: The sword from the bedchamber of Tipu Sultan, the 18th-century ruler of Mysuru, sold for 14 million pounds ($17.4 million or 143 million rupees) at the Bonhams Indian and Islamic art sale, a house auction in London. This is a new auction world record for an Indian and Islamic object.

According to a Bonhams press release, the sword was estimated to be around 1,500,000-2,000,000 pounds. Bonhams further said that the sword was the most important of weapons with a proven personal association with the ruler.

“This spectacular sword is the greatest of all weapons linked to Tipu Sultan still in private hands. Its close personal association with the sultan, its impeccable provenance traceable back to the very day it was captured, and the excellent craftsmanship that went into its manufacturing they do is unique and highly desirable,” said Oliver White, Bonhams director of Islamic and Indian art and auctioneer.

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“The sword has an extraordinary history, amazing provenance and unrivaled craftsmanship. It came as no surprise that it was so hotly contested between two telephone bidders and one bidder in the room. We are delighted with the result,” Nima Sagharchi, Group Leader of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, he said in a statement.

“As described by Francis Buchanan in his on-site account describing Tipu’s palace immediately after the siege, a sword lay within the sultan’s reach as he slept. (On constant alert against attack, Tipu slept in a hammock suspended from the ceiling of his closed and bolted alcove with a pair of pistols and a sword at its side). The weapon is of exceptional quality. The blade, which bears the inscription “The Ruler’s Sword” is particularly fine. It was made by Mughal smiths following the modeled after German blades introduced to India in the 16th century. The hilt is inlaid in exquisitely executed gilt calligraphy with five of God’s qualities and two invocations calling on God by name,” the statement read.

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After Tipu Sultan was killed, his sword was given to British Major General David Baird as a token of his courage, according to the auction house.

Tipu Sultan succeeded his father as ruler of the southern Indian kingdom of Mysore in 1782. He earned the nickname ‘Tiger of Mysore’ for the ferocity with which he defended the interests of his kingdom. He pioneered the use of rocket artillery in wars both against neighboring states and against the East India Company, of which he was an implacable opponent.

His reign was also marked by the introduction of a new calendar and coinage system and other administrative and financial reforms that built on his father’s work and transformed Mysore into India’s most dynamic economy.

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