LONDON: Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan’s bedchamber sword fetched an astounding $17.4 million at the Islamic and Indian Art sale held by Bonhams in London the other day.
Tipu Sultan, a valiant Muslim ruler, governed the Kingdom of Mysore in South India from 1782 to 1799. Known as the “Tiger of Mysore,” he gained fame for his commanding role in wars.
According to the auction’s official website, several weapons were taken from Tipu Sultan’s palace following the loss of his royal stronghold at Seringapatam on May 4, 1799. The Bedchamber Sword was discovered in his private chambers after the war.
During the battle against the East India Company, Tipu Sultan was martyred, and the sword was reportedly looted. Bonhams stated that the sword was presented to Major General David Baird, a British army officer, “as a token of their high esteem for his courage and conduct in the assault against Tipu Sultan.”
Considered the finest and most significant weapon in Tipu Sultan’s arsenal, the sword has a proven personal connection to the ruler.
The auction site described the blade, labelled ‘The Sword of the Ruler,’ as exquisite. It was crafted by Mughal swordsmiths who were inspired by German blades brought to India in the 16th century.
The hilt of the sword is adorned with intricately crafted gold lettering representing five characteristics of God and two invocations to God by name.
Nima Sagharchi, the group head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, remarked on the sword’s extraordinary history, provenance, and craftsmanship. The intense bidding competition among two phone bidders and a bidder in the room came as no surprise to him.
Bruno Vinciguerra, the CEO of Bonhams, expressed delight in achieving such an impressive result for this remarkable piece.
Oliver White, the Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams and the auctioneer, emphasized the sword’s exceptional significance, stating that it is the most remarkable weapon associated with Tipu Sultan that remains in private hands.
The sword’s close personal association with the Sultan, its impeccable provenance tracing back to the day it was captured, and its outstanding craftsmanship make it a one-of-a-kind and highly desirable item.