A rifle from the armoury of Tipu Sultan
Lot 211
A percussion Gun with fine gold koftgari watered steel Mughal barrel the barrel probably Seringapatam 18th Century, the stock and lock English, mid 19th Century
Sold for £11,250 (US$ 17,572) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rifle from the armoury of Tipu Sultan A rifle from the armoury of Tipu Sultan
A percussion Gun with fine gold koftgari watered steel Mughal barrel
the barrel probably Seringapatam 18th Century, the stock and lock English, mid 19th Century
the watered steel barrel terminating in the form of a stylised tiger head decorated in gold koftgari and set with gem stones, the breach decorated in gold damascene with scrolling floral interlace, the wood stock carved with hatched grips, the lock marked KL & CO LONDON and bearing stamp in the form of a crown, with steel ramrod
160 cm. long

Footnotes

  • The presence of a tiger head finial and the striped decoration on the present barrel together with the very fine quality of the watered steel and profuse inlaid decoration leads one temptingly to draw comparison with guns taken from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore (1750-1799). The inlaid floral decoration, however, in very much in the style of 17th Century inlaid work from Bidar, Deccan (see Zebrowski, Mark, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, London, 1997, nos. 431,432.) and also that found on Mughal carpets and architectural panels in the early 17th Century.

    Tipu's palace was reknowned for the array and beauty of the items stored leading Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Beatson to comment "in his palace were found a great variety of curious swords, daggers, fusils, pistols, and blunderbusses; some were of exquisite workmanship, mounted with gold or silver and beautifully inlaid and ornamented". Tipu's personal motif was the tiger, with all of his personal and household goods customised with a tiger-stripe or bubri, of which the leafy design in the chevron bands of the present lot recalls. A detailed discussion of this iconography appears in Robin Wigington's seminal work on the firearms of Tipu Sultan, "The Firearms of Tipu Sultan 1783-1799, Hatfield, 1992.

    There are three guns with barrels of similar form although of later decoration in the Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait (Elgood, Robert, Firearms of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum Kuwait, London, 1995, p. 176, figs. 119a, 106a and 120a).
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