An auction house in London has sold a sword owned by the renowned Indian ruler and commander Tipu Sultan for £14 million ($17.4 million).
The sword was one of a number of weapons taken from Tipu Sultan's palace after his defeat at the hands of the British in 1799.
Describing the sword, a statement from Bonhams — the auction house — said: “The weapon’s handle is decorated with gold calligraphy, with five of the qualities of God and two invocations calling on God by name.”
Manufactured by Mughal swordsmiths following the model of German blades introduced to India in the 16th century, Tipu Sultan’s sword has a Persian inscription — “The sword of the ruler”.
“This spectacular sword is the greatest of all the weapons linked to Tipu Sultan still in private hands,” said Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra, ahead of the auction.
“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 added.
According to CNN, the sword fetched seven times the price expected for it. Bonhams said that this sale broke the record for an Indian and Islamic object sold at auction.
Group head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams Nima Sagharchi said in a statement: “The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance and unrivalled craftsmanship.”
He further added: “It was no surprise it was so hotly contested between two phone bidders and a bidder in the room. We are delighted with the result.”
The Indian Muslim ruler was based in South India between 1782 and 1799 and was referred to as the "Tiger of Mysore". He was also a famous commander who led his side to victory on numerous occasions.
He was a pioneer of the use of rocket artillery and introduced them to wars, transforming Mysore into the most dynamic economy in India, Bonhams said.
Bonhams shared that after Tipu Sultan was killed, his sword — which was found in the private quarters of his palace — was presented to British Major General David Baird as a token of his courage.
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