An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)

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Lot 157*
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan
Seringapatam, circa 1787-93
(2)

£ 60,000 - 80,000US$ 76,000 - 100,000
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan
Seringapatam, circa 1787-93
the tiger-head pommel cast, chased and engraved gold in the round on a wooden core, inlaid with diamonds and rubies, the tiger's left ear slightly bent, the teeth of diamond and the tongue of ruby, the collar studied with rubies, the rest of the hilt of gilded silver, cast, chased and engraved, the grip inlaid with diamonds, rubies and emeralds in a bubri pattern, a gold-set garnet inlaid on either side of the quillon block, quillons in the shape of tiger claws, langets shaped into an ogival point, the slightly curved double-sided blade of 15th Century Eastern Mediterranean manufacture previously from the treasury of Tipu Sultan, the 19th Century wooden scabbard in the orientalising fashion with black leather covering overlaid with gilded floral motifs, six gilded silver openwork mounts with calligraphic roundels and a floral and vegetal motifs around the borders, the metal fittings engraved with bubri patterns along the borders
80.7 cm. long; the whole 98 cm. long(2)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Robin Wigington collection, the Arms and Armour Museum, Stratford-upon-Avon;
    Private collection, acquired Sotheby's, The Tipu Sultan Sale, 25th May 2015, lot 7.

    Exhibited:
    The Tiger and the Thistle. Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India 1760 – 1800, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999;
    Tigers around the Throne. The Court of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), Zamana Gallery, London, 1990

    Published:
    Buddle, Anne, Rohatgi, Pauline and Brown, Iain Gordon, The Tiger and the Thistle. Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India 1760 – 1800, Exhibition Catalogue, Edinburgh, 1999, pp. 22 and 25, pl. 25;
    Buddle, Anne, Tigers around the Throne. The Court of Tipu Sultan (1750-99), London, 1990, pp. 42-43;
    Hales, Robert, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour, n.p., 2013, p. 182, no. 433.
    Wigington, Robin, 'Souvenir Weaponry from Seringapatam' in The Journal of the Arms & Armour Society, vol. XV, no. 3, March 1996, p. 143 and fig. 1.


    Inscriptions:
    On the scabbard mounts, Surat al-Saff (lxi), verse 13; and twice, 'And [you will obtain] another [favour] that you love - victory from Allah and an imminent conquest; and give good tidings to the believers.'

    The tiger's head pommel of this sword is ensuite, and reduced in size, with the tiger-head finials which were mounted on the corners of Tipu's throne. Because of its size, it was clearly not one of these finials, but its close affinity suggests that it was part of the Sultan's royal regalia, possibly from a rod of office. It was almost certainly produced by the same craftsmen in the Royal Workshops alongside the other tiger finials (see below) and the huma bird which is now in the Royal Collection (Moienuddin, Mohammed, Sunset at Srirangapatam. After the Death of Tipu Sultan, Hyderabad, 2000, pp.45-53).

    Only four finials from the guard-rail of Tipu's fabled throne are known to have survived: the best known example is in the Clive Collection at Powis Castle, acquired by the second Lady Clive in India, a gift from Lord Wellesley; a second, acquired after the battle by Surgeon-Major Pultney Mein, either by allocation or in the agents' auction, was sold at Sotheby's (19 March 1973, lot 180) and then offered by a London antique dealer in 1974 (advertised in Oriental Art and the example referred to by Forrest as being in the collection of Alexander Bowlby of Hampstead, London), current whereabouts unknown; the Hope-Wallace finial sold through these rooms (Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 2nd April 2009, lot 212), now in the collection of Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani (Jaffer, Amin, ed., Beyond Extravagance. A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels, New York, 2013, p. 135); and the Bowser finial, also sold through these rooms (Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 7th October 2010, lot 370). In addition to these four, Forrest refers tantalisingly to another finial in a private collection in Cornwall, but no further information or explanation is offered and there is no corroboration to be found in other sources.

    The head of this particular lot matches closely in workmanship that of the four surviving finials, but in terms of features is almost identical to the Hope-Wallace finial. The design is somewhat simpler than that on the larger finials, which can be accounted for by the much smaller size of the pommel. The method of manufacture is common to all the known finials, where the head was hammered into shape from gold sheet and then filled with lac to enable the details of the decoration to be filled without the head collapsing. The settings of the stones can be compared to South Indian temple jewellery and jewelled objects (see Filliozat, J. and P.Z. Pattabiramin, Parures Divines du Sud de l'Inde, Pondicherry, 1966).

    Another element of interest is the blade, which appears to be on 15th Century manufacture, probably Mamluk or Ottoman. An engraving at the forte, now largely obliterated, confirms that it was in Tipu's Royal Armoury where it was presumably among the "a great variety of curious swords" mentioned by Beatson in 1800 (A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun comprising a narrative of the operations under the command of Lieutenant-General George Harris, and of the siege of Seringapatam, London, 1800, p.158).
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An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
An important rare gem-set Sword with Tiger's head pommel from the Royal Regalia of Tipu Sultan Seringapatam, circa 1787-93(2)
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