Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber sword was sold for a whopping $17.4 million at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London.
Tipu Sultan was the Indian Muslim ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore based in South India between 1782 and 1799. He was commonly referred to as the “Tiger of Mysore” and was famous for the commanding role he played in wars.
The official site of the auction mentioned that a number of weapons were removed from Tipu Sultan’s palace after the loss of his royal bastion at Seringapatam on May 4 in 1799. The Bedchamber Sword was discovered in his private chambers after the war.
Tipu Sultan was killed in the battle against the East Indian Company and the sword was reportedly “looted”.
The WION quoting Bonhams, the sword was presented to British Army officer, Major General David Baird, “as a token of their high esteem of his courage and conduct in the assault with he commanded and in which Tipu Sultan was slain”.
The sword is said to be the finest and most important of the weapons in his arsenal with a proven personal association with the ruler.
The site also mentioned that the blade, emblazoned ‘The Sword of the Ruler,’ is exquisite. Mughal swordsmiths created it after seeing German blades transported to India in the 16th century.
The hilt is inlaid with superbly wrought gold lettering depicting five of God’s characteristics and two invocations to God by name.
‘The sword has an extraordinary history’
Nima Sagharchi, group head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, said in the statement: “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.”
Bruno Vinciguerra, who is the CEO of Bonhams, said: “This is one of the most astonishing objects Bonhams has had the privilege of bringing to auction. It is a stupendous price for a stupendous piece. I am so thrilled for our teams that worked so hard to deliver this result.”
While speaking before the sale, Oliver White, Bonhams Head of Islamic and Indian Art and auctioneer, said: “This spectacular sword is the greatest of all the weapons linked to Tipu Sultan still in private hands.”
“Its close personal association with the Sultan, its impeccable provenance traceable to the very day it was captured, and the outstanding craftsmanship that went into its manufacture make it unique and highly desirable.”