A whopping $17.4 million (£14 million) was paid at auction for a sword that belonged to Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan “Tiger of Mysore” was a Muslim Indian emperor who ruled from 1782 to 1799 from a stronghold in South India. He was also a well-known general who often guided his team to victory.
A variety of weaponry were captured from Tipu Sultan’s palace following his defeat by the British in 1799, including the sword.
According to a statement from the auction firm Bonhams, who described the sword, “the weapon’s handle is decorated with gold calligraphy, with five of the qualities of God and two invocations calling on God by name.”
Tipu Sultan’s sword, which was made by Mughal swordsmiths after the design of German blades brought to India in the 16th century, has the Persian inscription “The sword of the ruler.”
In a statement made before to the sale, Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra remarked that “this magnificent sword is the greatest of all the weapons linked to Tipu Sultan still in private hands.”
“Its close personal association with the Sultan, its impeccable provenance traceable to the very day it was captured, and the outstanding craftsmanship that went into its manufacture make it unique and highly desirable,” he said.
The sword reportedly sold for seven times what was anticipated.
In a statement, Nima Sagharchi, group head of Islamic and Indian art at Bonhams, said: “The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance, and unrivaled craftsmanship.”
It was not surprising that it was so fiercely disputed between two phone bids and a bidder present, he said. We are thrilled with the outcome.
According to Bonhams, British Major General David Baird received Tipu Sultan’s sword, which was discovered in his palace’s private rooms, as a reward for his bravery.