Posted on: 7 October 2013


The hilt with broad crossguard, elongated forte and bud quillons, incised with foliate decoration at the grip, with a ridged curved steel blade, the scabbard with a row of embossed foliate medallions, each with a colourful stone or glass to centre, two loops for hanging, later engraved at the lock: Taken from Tippoo Saib, Seringapatam, 1799
Quantity: 2
sword: 96cm.
scabbard: 85cm.

Sothebys Auction:
Art of Imperial India - 09 October 2013


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How about returning these to where they belong - the Govt. of India???

Our customs are not that friendly!

... " Of Eastern European manufacture - late 16th century " ... That is interesting ...

Tipu's sword was made from a special steel called wootz. Wootz contained small crystals of carbon. The crystal gave the sword a water flowing pattern that enabled easy ripping through the opponents armour. NIAS, Bangalore and Exeter University are tracing the origin of wootz. The mineral is said to have originated in Telangana and exported to Europe. Members of this page Sharada Srinivasan and Sushil Talwar may be able to throw some more light on this.

Very few if any know that Tipu's folks were the inventors of the rocket. He used them against the Brits. Some of the captured rockets are in the vaults of the National Army Museum. The so called American inventor got his inspiration from them!!!!!!

Arindam Sen: We have explored the topic on 'Wootz' steel earlier at RBSI. It is derived from the the Kannada word 'Ukku' meaning Iron. The earlier post:

Sushil Talwar: According to Raja Chandra (scion of the Mysore Royal family) these rockets were used by the Wodeyar family ever since the 16th century. Tipu it seems just improvised the existing technology. William Congreve of course appropriated all credit to himself for this borrowed technology. Links to RBSI's earlier posts:

Yup that is right. Sadly we dont have even one to exhibit.

Re: " Very few if any know that Tipu's folks were the inventors of the rocket. " I realise that it has become fashionable for modern India to claim the invention and intellectual property rights to virtually every significant human scientific and technical innovation of the last two or three thousand years , but - alas - this is not so. Primitive gun-powder rockets, for example, and the technology associated with them were first developed in China - as early as the eleventh century. Their use spread outward from this point over the following centuries - throughout the Mongol, and eventually, the Ottoman Empires. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan can, however, be credited with the creation of the ' iron-clad ' rocket - a considerable improvement upon earlier models, that proved to be a good deal more accurate than their predecessors, and more closely resembled the projectiles with which we are familiar today. Tipu's military forces were also the first to deploy rockets in a carefully co-ordinated, rather than in piecemeal fashion. It was this tactical ingenuity that so impressed the British. Re: " William Congreve of course appropriated all credit to himself for this borrowed technology." Not so. A relevant extract from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Sir William Congreve (d.1828) : " About this time [ c.1800] there were experiments with war rockets in several countries, notably France and Ireland. Congreve always denied that he had invented war rockets, attributing their origin to Mughal antiquity. Influenced by their use against the British in India ... Congreve in 1804, at his own expense, began experimenting with rockets at Woolwich. He developed rockets of different calibres and warheads." ... etc & so on ...

Fire pots were hurled as combustible weapons as early as 400 BC by the Greeks ( was it Archtyes?). A couple of centuries later , the Chinese first introduced gunpowder for ballistic weapons. Simon Schama , in his books , has credited the French with the use of war rockets as early as c.1425 by Joan of Arc. Probably Newton did not have rocket in mind , but his "Universal Laws of Motion" had a far reachong development. The success rates of Tipu's rockets were low. WC studied these and set up a R&D at Arsenal and subsequently was used in Napoleonic wars with high auccess rates. However , I am not aware of rocket use by the Wodiyars as early as 16th century. Did they use gunpowder or pigeon clay pots (an improvemwnt on firw ones) ?

Weapons from Seringapatam were the items most fervently collected. The Governor General himself asked his brother, Arthur, to look out for Tipu's swords, which could dispatched to England as gifts for the Prince of Wales. Robert Clive's eldest son, Edward, the then governor of Madras, came into possession of three of the Sultan's swords through the efforts of his wife and daughters. About rockets, Roddam Narasimha of IISc, Bangalore has the following article to his credit about the subject: Models of his rockets are on display at Tipu's Palace at Bangalore with a note stating that originals could be seen at the Woolwich Royal Artillery Museum, London. Tipu's rockets were used to good effect in the second Mysore War, and during ceremonies like the launching of the Jacobin Club at Seringapatam. The French presence at these wars and events, with them training Tipu's men and leading many of them them in battle, might imply that development of these rockets could have benefited from European knowledge (Narasimha talks about European rockets on page 5 of the above PDF), although the English seem to have looked into it only from the 19th century.

Also, I believe Dr. Hoover could add enlighten us more about the Mysorean rockets.