The sword of Muslim monarch Tipu Sultan achieved an incredible $17.4 million at the last Islamic and Indian Art sale hosted by Bonhams in London.
From 1782 to 1799, Tipu Sultan, a heroic Muslim prince, ruled the Kingdom of Mysore in South India. He was known as the “Tiger of Mysore” for his commanding role in conflicts.
Several firearms were confiscated from Tipu Sultan’s palace following the loss of his royal bastion at Seringapatam on May 4, 1799, according to the auction’s official website. After the conflict, the Bedchamber Sword was discovered in his private apartments.
Tipu Sultan was martyred during the battle against the East India Company, and the sword was reputedly looted. According to Bonhams, the sword was given to British army officer Major General David Baird “as a token of their high esteem for his courage and conduct in the assault against Tipu Sultan.”
The sword, considered the best and most important weapon in Tipu Sultan’s arsenal, has a demonstrated personal connection to the ruler.
The weapon, dubbed ‘The Sword of the Ruler,’ was described as “exquisite” on the auction site. Mughal swordsmiths were inspired by German blades transported to India in the 16th century to create it.
The sword’s hilt is embellished with elaborately wrought gold calligraphy portraying five qualities of God and two direct invocations to God.
Nima Sagharchi, Bonhams’ group head of Islamic and Indian Art, remarked on the sword’s exceptional history, provenance, and craftsmanship. He was unsurprised by the fierce bidding fight between two phone bidders and a bidder in the room.
Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra expressed delight at attaining such an amazing result for this remarkable piece.
The sword’s unique significance was emphasised by Oliver White, the Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams and the auctioneer, who stated that it is the most remarkable weapon associated with Tipu Sultan that survives in private hands.
The sword’s close personal link with the Sultan, its flawless provenance dating back to the day it was captured, and its exceptional craftsmanship all combine to make it a one-of-a-kind and very prized object.