A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94

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Lot 154
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad
Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94

Sold for £ 722,500 (US$ 949,097) inc. premium
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad
Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
the barrel of 14-bore, the first part polygonal, thereafter rounded with a raised top flat, the foresight a silver walking tiger set within gold circles, a circle-and-dot motif around the muzzle, the barrel of blued steel with silver koftgari bubri pattern throughout, a quatrain in praise of the gun inlaid on the top flat of the breech and lower barrel ending in a vegetal motif, the top flat with the 'Haydar' talismanic square, the left flat with the date and place of manufacture, the right flat with the maker's signature, the Royal Sun motif at the top of the breech, the breech with an additional chamber for the use of superimposed charges, the lock with an internal cock in the form of a tiger wearing a gold collar, in the round from the shoulder upwards, below the shoulder chiselled and forming the rear of the lock plate, inlaid with silver bubri pattern throughout, the Haydar talismanic square and date of manufacture inlaid on the tiger's haunches, the safety catch formed in the shape of a small silver tiger on its back, the front of the frizzen formed as a large bubri surrounded by an inlaid silver bubri pattern, the flash-pan of bubri form, a key extending from the flash-pan to rotate the shutter-cylinder for the superimposed charges, the side-plate showing soldiers mauled by tigers, the trigger-guard and escutcheon decorated en suite, the stock of carved hardwood, the butt finely carved in high relief and partially in the round forming a crouching tiger, the bubri pattern throughout stained black and inlaid with silver, the eyes inlaid with brass, the butt-plate in low relief with tigers devouring a gandarebunda, the tail-pipe with tiger mask, two short ramrod-pipes, silver fore-end cap, original fittings
the barrel 97.8 cm. long; the whole 138 cm. long

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Presented to Lord Cornwallis after the Fall of Seringapatam, 1799;
    By descent to the Earls of Pembroke, Wilton House;
    Robin Wigington collection, the Arms and Armour Museum, Stratford-upon-Avon;
    Private collection, acquired at Sotheby's, The Tipu Sultan Sale, 25th May 2005, lot 54.

    Exhibited:
    The Tiger and the Thistle. Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India 1760–1800, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 29th July - 3rd October 1999;
    Tigers around the Throne. The Court of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Zamana Gallery, London, 2nd August - 14th October 1990;
    The Indian Heritage. Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 21st April - 22nd August 1982, no. 464.

    Published:
    Buddle, Anne, Rohatgi, Pauline and Brown, Iain Gordon,The Tiger and the Thistle. Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India 1760–1800, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999, pp. 22, 25, pl. 25;
    Buddle, Anne, Tigers around the Throne. The Court of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Zamana Gallery, London, 1990, pp. 42-43);
    Skelton, Robert et al., The Indian Heritage. Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1982, p. 139, no. 464;
    Wigington, Robin, The Firearms of Tipu Sultan 1783-1799, Hatfield, 1992, TR10, pp.67-73;
    Stronge, Susan, Tipu's Tigers, London, 2009, p.39


    Inscriptions:
    On the barrel, Tofang-e binazir-e khusraw-e hind/ Ke bashad barq-e suzan thani-ye u/ Tavanad sar-nevesht-e khasm bar-dasht/ Hadaf gardad agar pishani-ye u, 'The peerless rifle of the Khusraw of India/ To which the forked lightning is second/ Can seal the enemy's fate/ If his forehead is made the target'; place of manufacture as Patan; and the maker's name, Asad Khan-e Muhammad, 'Asad Khan [son of] Muhammad'; dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94; the talismanic square with the letters H/Y/D/R for 'Haydar'; the control mark 'Haydar' in gold;
    On the tang, the magic number 313, representing the curse tin terah, meaning destruction and ruin;
    On the lock, the place of manufacture as Patan; the maker's name as Asad-e Khan Muhammad, 'Asad Khan [son of] Muhammad'; dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94; the talismanic square with the letters H/Y/D/R for 'Haydar'; and the 'Haydar' control mark.


    This gun is rightly considered to be the finest and most important of any firearms which can be associated with Tipu's personal ownership. It is a compendium of the visual propaganda which he used to express his power, through the overwhelming use of the tiger whether as a stylised bubri pattern or as a fully formed, naturalistic beast. Unlike other guns, where the bubri pattern is merely engraved, here it is picked out in silver koftgari work down the entire length of the barrel. The tiger is shown as an entire animal in the round at several points, always in great detail, from the remarkable crouched example at the butt to the finely-chiselled examples on the safety-catch and the tiny example which appears to be wading through a pool on the fore-sight. On the escutcheon, side-plate and trigger-guard are tigers mauling European soldiers, echoing the death of Munro and 'Tipu's Tiger.'

    The double-headed eagle (gandarebunda) which was the symbol of the deposed Wodeyar rulers is here attacked and devoured by Tipu's royal tigers, demonstrating his mastery over the Hindu royal family and, therefore, his right to take their power [Brittlebank, Kate, 'Sakti and Barakat: The Power of Tipu's Tiger. An Examination of the Tiger Emblem of Tipu Sultan of Mysore' in Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2, May, 1995, p.261]. Similar combinations of tiger and gandarebunda can be seen on surviving cushions used by Tipu in his howdahs or palanquins [Stronge 2009, p.39]. Such a heavy emphasis on tigers, and their ability to overcome both Europeans and the Wodeyars, can only suggest that this gun was made for the personal use of Tipu Sultan. As such, it is of tremendous historical, as well as aesthetic, significance.

    The technological aspect of this gun is also worthy of note, as a reminder of the ingenuity of Tipu's gunsmiths and the cutting-edge military technology which his armies employed. Here, the gun is configured to fire twice out of a single barrel, without having to reload between shots. In order to do this, two charges would have been muzzle-loaded, one on top of the other, and ignited separately using two touch-holes rather than the usual one. A mechanism of this type, which required a number of moving parts working in unison, was copied from the most up-to-date European guns and would have required precision engineering (Wigington 1992, pp. 33-34).

    Lord Cornwallis (1738-1805), to whom this gun was presented after the fall of Seringapatam, is perhaps best known for his surrender to the combined French-American force at Yorktown in 1781. However, he also played an important role in the conflict between Tipu Sultan and the British East India Company as Governor-General and Commander-in Chief in India, leading British forces during the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-1792). Although he was unsuccessful in his first siege of Seringapatam in 1791, he returned the following year and forced Tipu to sign the Treaty of Seringapatam, in which half of Mysorean territory was handed over to the Company and its allies. This gun, which is so redolent of Tipu's personality, must therefore have seemed like the perfect gift for a figure whose career had been so shaped by conflict with the Sultan of Mysore.
Contacts
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
A magnificent two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock Sporting Gun from the personal armoury of Tipu Sultan, by Asad Khan-e Muhammad Seringapatam, dated Mawludi 1222/ AD 1793-94
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