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Indian

Sabre c.1790

Gilt copper, steel, moonstones | 11.5 cm (Width) x 4.5 cm (Depth); 86.0 cm (Length) (length) | RCIN 67216

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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  • Sabre with a gilt-metal hilt, the grip and crossguard engraved with foliate decoration, the tiger head pommel set with diamond eyes and the scrolled knucklebow engraved with leaves. With tiger head quillons/langet. The back-edged curved steel blade with hollowed face and stylised floral reserves enclosing gilt inscriptions.

    Tipu Sultan succeeded as ruler of the South Indian state of Mysore in 1782, where he built a sophisticated and modern court around his palace at Seringapatam. Tipu spent much of his reign engaged in hostilities against the British. In 1792 a peace treaty was signed but the discovery of secret communciations with Napoleon brought about a renewed British campaign against him, culminating in the sack of Seringapatam on 4 May 1799, at which time many of his personal effects were seized.

    Such was Tipu’s infamy in England that collectors were eager to obtain personal relics, and many more swords survive in British country-house collections than can possibly have been found by the side of the Sultan’s body where he fell in 1799. This sword, which bears an early nineteenth-century manuscript label inscribed ‘Favourite sword of Tipoo’, has a greater claim than most. The numerous inscriptions on the blade show beyond doubt that it was a fighting sword that belonged to Tipu. The hilt is covered with the bubri tiger-stripe emblem and two of the five tiger head terminals have jewelled eyes. This refinement is not present on another sword which in other respects closely resembles this one, which was in the collection of the 2nd Baron Clive.

    Inscribed in six places on the blade in gold inlays with a Persian distich and Koranic verses.

    Catalogue entry adapted from George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004
    Provenance

    Probably formerly belonged to Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Presented to King George III by Sir John Cradock, May 1811.

  • Medium and techniques

    Gilt copper, steel, moonstones

    Measurements

    11.5 cm (Width) x 4.5 cm (Depth); 86.0 cm (Length) (length)