Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mysore Tipu Sultan's Famous Sword

Tipu Sultan of Mysore,India. www. facebook.com
Tipu Sultan's sword-  hilts with tiger theme.  mangalorean.com
There are so many pictures and paintings of Tipu Sultan with his famous legendary sword. He always used special swords whenever he went to war. He was brave and quick besides being a great strategist.
Tipu Sultan's sword- British museum.  itdunya.com
Tipu Sultan's short sword-silver engraved. ancintarms.biz
Tipu Sultan who ruled Mysore till 1799, fought four wars with the British using his legendary sword and at last  died fighting with his famous sword. His swords are prized items and are now part of valuable collections in various museums in England. what was so special about them ? Unlike swords made for fighting in wars, Tipu's unique sword had an incredibly hard and sharp edge that could easily rip through the opponent’s armor. This quality of the sword came from a special type of high carbon steel called ''Wootz'' which was produced all over south India. Wootz steel, when made into swords, produced a very sharp edge with a flowing water pattern. This pattern came from very small carbon crystals embedded in the iron produced in many hundreds of smelting furnaces in Mysore.

Tipu Sultan's famous sword,Royal collection.  www.flickr.com
Francis Buchanan, who toured through Mysore in 1800, a year after Tipu Sultan’s death, had left us an account of the technique by which these amazing Wootz steels were produced in many hundreds of smelting furnaces in Mysore. In these furnaces, iron was mixed with charcoal and put inside small clay pots. Through an intricate control of temperatures, the smelters produced high grade steel ingots that were used for sword making, not just in India but in West and Central Asia too. Wootz is an anglicized version of the Kannada word ukku, Telugu hukku and Tamil and Malayalam urukku – meaning hardened steel. It was light weight and very strong.

Michael Faraday, the legendary scientist and discoverer of electricity and electromagnetism, spent four years studying the properties of Indian Wootz (1818-22). However, the Wootz steel making process, which was so widely known in south India, was completely lost by the mid-nineteenth century. The swords and armor making industry died after the arrival of the British and imports of iron and steel from England displaced the iron and steel produced by highly  skilled  people in India. The Indian artisans' skills in several fields, indigenous technology and workmanship all disappeared after the British took over  the control of vast Indian subcontinent.

Seven years after Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya bought a sword of Tipu Sultan, a majestic saber of the Mysore king fetched 505,250.00 pounds at a Southey's auction here.The 200-year-old sword was estimated to go under the hammer for 50,000.00 -70,000.00 pounds. It eventually sold at nearly 10 times that estimate. According to the auction house, there are a very small number of sword hilts, such as the one auctioned, which have a pronounced tiger theme that was a mark of Tipu's ownership. 
 Another highlight of the auction was a rare Indian bronze cannon cast at the Mysore king's royal foundry. This artifact from around 1790 AD was bought by an anonymous buyer at 313,250.00 pounds.
Among other items in the lot were a tent canopy that was sold for 121,250.00 pounds and a rare matchlock carbine that came under the hammer for 91,250.00
The auction fetched 15.4 million pounds, compared to the 1.2 million pounds earned at the first part of the Tipu Sultan auction of 2005.''

From....     Mangalorean News. dated 16thApril,2010

 ''A sword of Tipu Sultan, the legendary ruler of the Princely State of Mysore, and some other valuable antiques - a gold necklace studded with precious stones, a silver ring fitted with priceless 'neelam' (blue stone), a cigar holder in the form of a musical piece with a lady having wings, etc. - were stolen from Mysore Palace and Government Museum, Mysore in 1985

CBI got specific information that some persons were trying to sell these antiquities to interested buyers. A CBI team posed as prospective buyers, negotiated with the sellers and succeeded in trapping the sellers along with the antiquities at Mysore. As a result, the precious Sword was recovered from the Nagalingaswamy Math in Mysore in December, 1985. The remaining artifacts were recovered from some other places. Four separate charge-sheets were filed against the accused persons. In one case, the accused died during the trial and other cases ended in conviction of the accused persons. All these priceless artifacts are now with the National Museum, New Delhi. ''
                                             From CBI report: