A 'Tipu' Sword
Place of Origin: Mysore, India
Date: Late 18th Century
Tipu Sultan (1750–1799) was the ruler of Mysore until his death at the Siege of Seringapatam—he died while defending his kingdom and gained many admirers for his bravery. The most well-known of these in recent years was the late Robin Wigington of Stratford-upon-Avon who reputedly would fire a small cannon on the River Avon in honour of Tipu’s birthday, each year. This sword was made during the reign Tipu Sultan, probably for use by his personal guard or important officials, and placed within his Palace’s armoury. The curving blade is single-edged and European in origin with triple, hollow ground fullers towards the spine.
As expected from a sword associated with Tipu Sultan, tigers are a prominent feature. The pommel has a large one with teeth bared and wide eyes, the quillons feature a single small one at each of their tips and there’s one at the knuckle-bow’s termination, above a series of chevrons. Even the rain-guards (or langets) are formed from a flattened tiger’s head on the obverse and a body on the reverse. All are engraved in a similar style, with the familiar bubri pattern of tiger-striping so closely associated with Tipu throughout. (In fact, he was so fond of the ‘bubri tiger’ that it is considered to be a royal mark.)
For another example of a bubri-decorated sword please see the 2015 Bonhams auction that re-offered much of the Tipu collection that was originally compiled by Wigington (1).
Provenance: A Private English Collection