Tipu Sultan’s ‘bedchamber sword’ auctioned for a record-breaking $17.4 million


Sapan News Tipu Sultan’s personal favourite bedchamber sword sold for $17.4 million (£14 million) at an auction in London. The sale price was seven times the estimate, breaking the record for an Indian and Islamic object sold at auction.

“The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance and unrivalled craftsmanship. It was no surprise it was so hotly contested between two phone bidders and a bidder in the room. We are delighted with the result,” said Group Head of Islamic and Indian Art Nima Sagharchi in a press release.

Sultan, who was famously known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, was the ruler of the kingdom of Mysore in south Indian from 1782 to 1799. Tipu Sultan’s bravery and valour were fabled across the subcontinent.

The Maharaja is credited with pioneering the use of rocket artillery in wars, especially against the East India Company, of which he was a strong opposer. He also transformed Mysore into a dynamic economy in India by introducing administrative and financial reforms such as a new calendar and coinage system.

He was killed by British forces in May 1799 during an attack they launched on his kingdom’s capital, Seringapatam (now Srirangapatna in the state of Karnataka in modern-day India). The weapon is believed to have been found in his private quarters where he slept in a hammock suspended from the ceiling of his bedchamber and the sword at his side.

Following his death, the sword was presented to British Major General David Baird – who was once a prisoner of the Sultan – as a token of his courage. Baird had led the soldiers in an attack that ended the month-long siege of Seringapatam and resulted in Sultan’s death.

The sword is an example of the area’s fine craftsmanship. The blade, which is inscribed ‘The Sword of the Ruler’ was manufactured by Mughal swordsmiths following the model of German blades introduced to India in the 16th century. The hilt is inlaid in exquisitely executed gold calligraphy with five qualities of God and two invocations calling on God by name.

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