An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)

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Lot 150
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam)
Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century
(3)

£ 60,000 - 90,000US$ 76,000 - 110,000
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam)
Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century
of red morocco, the brow-band, head- and cheek-pieces faced with interlocking rectangular plaques of gilt-brass, each cast with a eight-petalled flowerhead design, the nose-band composed of three-strand chains with suspended circular gilt pendants, the brow-band decorated with a series of small lunar mask pendants, with a large central pendant plaque also decorated with a lunar mask in low relief and in turn hung with further lunar pendants and a pair of original silk tassels, the first with throat-latch of three-strand chains, carrying a large lunar mask, the second throat-latch of braided silk and metallic thread, carrying a large silk tassel, the small gilt-brass breast-plate and crupper en suite
(3)

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Field Marshal Sir Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere (1773-1865).

    In 1794 at the age of 21 Stapleton Cotton was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the newly formed 25th Light Dragoons (Gwyn's Hussars). He led the regiment throughout the campaign against Tipu Sultan in 1799, including the Battle of Malavelly and the siege of Seringapatam.

    The present bridle was part of a substantial collection of booty taken from Tipu's stronghold by Lt. Col. Cotton, and together with a breast-plate, was specifically recorded as being Tipu's personal property. The greater part of Colonel Cotton's Seringapatam booty, including both the bridle and the breast-plate, was given by him to his friend the Rt. Hon. Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, MP (1796-1850). Williams Wynn was a distinguished collector and benefactor of antiquities and the arts. His sale of the embossed parade shield of Henri II to Comte de Nieuwerkerke is a noteworthy illustration of his standing in the art market (Wallace Collection reference A325). Following Charles' death in 1850 select pieces of the Williams Wynn Collection passed by descent through the family.

    The bridle is mentioned in the privately published biography of Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, written by his grandson: "There is also a collection of armour, mostly Indian, unfortunately never catalogued or identfied. Most of it was given to Charles by his old friend, Stapelton Cotton, first Viscount Combermere, including several swords, and the richly-decorated red moroccco bridle and breastplate of Tipoo Sahib, being trophies from Seringapatam in 1799" (Arthur Watkins Williams Wynn, Memoir of The Rt. Hon. Charles Watkin Williams Wynn M.P. 1796-1850, 1936, p. 37).

    It is likely this parade bridle was part of a princely or ambassadorial gift to Tipu Sultan from the Ottoman Sultan Selim III (1761-1808). As early as 1784, Tipu had sent an exploratory mission to the Sublime Porte to find out whether an embassy there would be productive and to seek military assistance to put an end to the British menace in India. He sent a large mission consisting of 900 people on 17 November 1785, reaching Constantinople on 25th September 1787. Selim III received Tipu's emissaries with honour and decorated them. The Sultan accorded permission to Tipu to assume the title of an independent monarch, the right to strike coins and to have the khutba read in his name. The envoys were also charged with friendly letters, khillats, arms and armour by the caliph and his grand wazir.

    Similar bridles are amongst booty captured from the Turks at the siege of Vienna in 1683 and in subsequent battles during the reconquest of Hungary and the Balkans. The construction of the chains, the tassels and the interlocking plates attached to the straps and the straps themselves are typical of this material. There are many published pieces for example in the reknown collection of "Türkenbeute" in the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, (see Ernst Petrarsch, Reinhard Sänger, et.al., Karlsruher Türkenbeute, München 1991, nos. 72-108, pp. 146 ff., and especially Inv. nos. D 133, D 137).

    The decorative scheme of the bridle, in particular the presence of the crescent moon, is in keeping with Ottoman military decoration of the late 17th and 18th Centuries. In the 17th Century, the Ottoman empire spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, and encompassing numerous provinces and vassal states. By the 18th century it had absorbed many of the decorative elements of its conquered lands, including the lunar motif which was often used on Hungarian armour from the 16th century. The Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg possesses two Ottoman bridles with crescent moon attachments of the type seen here (see Axel Gelbhaar, Mittelalterliches und fruneuzeitliches der Veste Coburg, Hildesheim, 1997, no. 45 and 47, Inv. nrs. XII61; XII62) and three Ottoman horse tail standards in the Vienna Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien are surmounted with silver lunar faces (Inv. nos. 126.234; 126.233 and 126.403) dated to the late 17th Century (David Alexander ed., Furusiyya Vol. II, p. 174, no. 142).


    With thanks to David Alexander, Dr. Reinhard Sänger and Dr. Schoole Mostafawy of the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, Germany and Dr. Alfred Geibig of the Kunstsammlungen Veste Coburg, Germany.
Contacts
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
An Ottoman gilt Bridle, Breast-plate and Crupper taken from the residential quarters of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Sultan of Mysore (Seringapatam) Turkey, Mid to late-18th Century(3)
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