Tipu Sultan Sword
Place of Origin: Mysore (India)
Date: 18th Century
A magnificent Tipu Sultan sword from the late 18th century. Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) was the ruler of Mysore until his death at the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799 where he died on the battlefield defending his kingdom.
The tiger-head pommel cast, chased and engraved bronze, applied heavily with gold, precisely stamped with small repeating circles and chased with the bubri tiger stripe pattern Tipu was so found of, it is considered to be the Royal mark (see Stronge, p.56). Pronounced ears, and large bubri shaped eyebrows. The horn grip of octagonal form with four applied gilt bronze concentric disks with large bronze gilt quillion block, again with small repeating circles and bubris in a rosette arrangement. The quillon terminals in the shape of large tiger paws with sharp claws, langets shaped into an ogival point. A golden chain linking the tigers head to and one of the quillions.
The Indian blade of pattern welded, or mechanical Damascus steel, has a sharp back edge on the distal third of the blade known as a "yelman" and takes its shape from early central Asian swords, and the later evolved Turkish kilij sword.
The original wooden scabbard is covered in dark green velvet and fitted with bronze gilt locket, chape and suspension loop, all profusely decorated with matching bubri motifs and punched circular patterns.
This sword shares many features found on known and published Tipu and Tipuesque swords. The grip on the exhibition example offered here has an octagonal form, much like several others, specifically a tiger hilted sword in the British Museum (see Archer/Rowell/Skelton, no.33) which was once in the possession of Lord Clive (Clive of India).
Then there is the fabulous bejewelled Tipu sword from the collection of the late Robin Wigington, (see Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 21st April 2015, lot 157 and Wigington 1996, p.142, no.1), Wigington describes the pommel ‘a gem-set gold pommel taken from the sceptre of Tipu’s coronation regalia’. As well as several stylistic similarities of the jewelled sword and the sword in this exhibition, of specific and important note are the tiger paw quillions which appear on both examples. The paw feature is repeated in Tipu’s throne and can be seen in a watercolour now in Powis Castle, Wales (see Stronge, p.17, no.8); also throne elements of a head and two paws that were taken in the storming of Seringapatam and mounted as a trophy, are now in the Royal collection, (RCIN 67212) see Stronge, p.54 no.56.
This paw feature suggests that the sword offered here is one of significant importance, and its striking similarities suggest that the same maker made both swords.