Tipu Sultan’s sword fetches over $17 million at London auction
London, May 26: Erstwhile Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan’s ‘Bedchamber Sword’ had sold for more than 14 million pounds ($17 million) at an auction in London.
Described as “one of the world’s rare artefacts”, the sword’s sale was conducted by Bonhams — a privately owned international auction house in London — on Tuesday, achieving 14,080,900 pounds against an estimate of 1.5 million to 2 million pounds.
The auction house said the sword was found in Tipu Sultan’s private quarters of his palace after he was killed by British forces on May 4, 1799.
Following his death, the sword was presented to British Major General David Baird as a token of his courage, according to Bonhams.
The auction house said that the sword’s “extremely rare calligraphic hilt is a masterpiece of late-18th century Indian manufacture, intricately inlaid in gold with fine calligraphic invocations to God”.
“The English inscription to the blade, presumably added by Baird or a descendant, explains how it was found in Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber following the fall of Seringapatam (now Srirangapatna) and presented to the General as a trophy of his victory.”
On the spine of the blade, a gold inlaid inscription reads ‘Shamshir-e Malik’ or ‘The Sword of the King’.
“The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance and unrivalled craftsmanship,” CNN quoted Nima Sagharchi, group head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, as saying in the statement.
“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,” he added.
According to Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra, the “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,” he added.