Tipu Sultan’s swords and ring in two Museums in London:

On 4th of May 1799, the legendary Indian ruler Tipu Sultan was killed, fighting the East India Company Army. His personal possessions and rich library were looted. His four swords are in permanent display in two renowned Museums in London.

The recent renovation of permanent ‘South Asia Gallery’ at the British Museum has provided a space for the legendary Indian ruler Tipu Sultan. It displays his sword, ring and a perfume box.

It depicts the story of a legendary Indian ruler, who refused to become an ally but preferred to die fighting against the colonial aggression over India. The descriptions of his objects by the British Museum is below:

“From 1766, the greatest threat to the East India Company came from the ruler of Mysore. In 1782 Tipu Sultan became the ruler of the province. His military and administrative skill made him the legend during his life time, feared and respected both by English and his countrymen. England sent its best troops to try and defeat him and kidnapped his sons in 1792. He was finally killed in 1799, during a battle in which the British successfully gained control of the city Sarirangapatnam. The event marked a change in company military policy from defensive to offensive.

Tipu’s possessions (‘everything that power could command or money could purchase’) were taken by victors and are now in collections all over the world. This sword, decorated with his emblem, the tiger, is from his treasury, but the gold ring is said to have been taken from his finger after the battle by Arthur Henry Cole, resident of Mysore.”

Upon an analysis of the above extracts from the Museum regarding Tipu Sultan’s objects, one may easily understand how important it was for the British to defeat Tipu Sultan.

Two other swords are in display at V&A Museum. Displayed in the background is his silk gown. Tipu, imported silk worm and technology from China to establish silk industry in Mysore. He is famous for his rocket which inflicted terror among British soldiers, however very few know that he had sea fleet and asked the Ottoman Sultan to give him access to an island in the Arabian Gulf for his offshore navy fleet.

Below are photographs from the British and V&A Museum where his ring and Swords are displayed.

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M S Siddiqui

Dr. Mohammad Siddiqui is a UK based Medical doctor. Apart from Medicine he is interested in history, culture, art and architecture. He is an avid collector of rare photographs, postcards, maps, artefacts, rare books and magazines on different themes like ‘Hajj pilgrimage’, ‘Delhi’, ‘Islam in Britain’ and ‘The role of Indian soldiers in WWI.’

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