Tipu Sultan’s famed Bedchamber Sword sold for £14 million at the Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London on Tuesday, stated a press release from the auction house.
Estimated to bring in £1.5-2 million, the sale set a new world record for an Indian and Islamic object.
The Bedchamber Sword is considered to be part of the personal arsenal of Tipu Sultan, having been found in his private quarters after the battle.
Tipu Sultan was killed by British forces on May 4, 1799, when they stormed his kingdom’s capital, Seringapatam (now Srirangapatna).
After he was killed, his sword, which was found in the private quarters of his palace, was presented to British Major General David Baird as a token of his courage, according to Bonhams.
Nima Sagharchi, Group Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, said, “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.”
The sword was one of the many weapons removed from Tipu Sultan’s palace after his defeat following the month-long siege of Seringapatam (now Srirangapatna) on May 4, 1799.
Francis Buchanan, in his account describing the palace immediately after the siege, stated that a sword lay within reach of Tipu Sultan while he slept, according to the press release.
Tipu Sultan slept in a hammock suspended from the ceiling of his bedchamber with a pair of pistols and a sword by his side.
The blade is inscribed with the words, ‘The Sword of the Ruler’ in Persian and was manufactured by Mughal swordsmiths following German blades introduced to the subcontinent in the 16th century. The hilt is inlaid in gold calligraphy which specifies five qualities of God and two invocations.
Tipu Sultan: the Tiger of Mysore
Tipu Sultan succeeded his father as the ruler of the kingdom of Mysore in south India in 1782. He earned the name ‘Tiger of Mysore’ to depict the ferocity with which he defended his kingdom. Amongst other innovations, he pioneered the use of rocket artillery in wars both against neighbouring states and also the East Indian Company.
His reign also oversaw the introduction of a new calendar and coinage system and other administrative and financial reforms which built on the work of his father.