Thread: Tipu Sword
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Old 13th January 2005, 10:06 AM   #19
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 486

hi earl,
dont expect an answer so soon. 90 pages!! your questions dont come cheap
jim would read this over breakfast. jens would spend a little longer, as he is more laid back and lives on a mountain, so he has a very distracting view outside his window.
me, i dont think i have that much time left on this planet to cover 90 pages of wootz study! just joking, will pour through it and skip the raw data and find the interesting bits.
can you scan in the picture from pant and post it? i have always doubted the piece in the dehli museum. the sword i posted in the original bedchamber sword, as it was inscribed just after the storming and before it was presented to baird.
although much of the wootz originated from the south, the blades were not revered. local 'fashion' lent towards the european imported blade. this is an on going discussion/debate, as to the importance of wootz in the south. the metalwork itself was untouched and the quality domintated the north (the ancusai discussed in elgoods forthcoming book show this) but you will find the finest worked steel hilts with european blades, created within the heart of the wootz region.
walhouse was present during the emptying of the tanjore armoury and he was surprised to note the amount of european blades on native hilts. there ar emany swords attributed to tipu, some more believable than others. he is well known to have had a collection of swords, which he alternated in use (hence, having a sword brought to his bedchamber every day)
there are 4 tipu swords of a specific type (hilt) that each have different blades. one is owned by the queen, one in the british museum, and 2 (including his 'beheading' sword) are in private collections. the hilts are of pure mysore design and tipuesque. all 4 of these swords were attributed to important people at the seige and were given as gifts of the time. 2 of these i know have european blades, and i think the other 2 do as well, from description but can only speculate.
the stibbert collection holds a fabulous tipu sword of high quality and design which, if not held by tipu himself, then must have been through him to one of his closest. the blade is without a doubt european (and not even of great quality) and has been decorated in gold with his tiger motif.
powis castle holds two tipu swords, collected by lord clive who sought his items at the time. these two swords are without a doubt his (due to clives connections of the time) and both hold mysore hilts. its been a while since i've seen them, but one definately has a european blade and the other most likely.
the wellington sword, although sheathed, probably doesnt. the hilt has no real connection with the region and it was most likely a gift to the court. from the quality of the hilt i would guess at an indian blade, even though straight double edged indian blades were relatively scarce and of uncommon design. i will strive to find out more on this piece.
the wallace collection holds a tipu sword which, again, doesnt have the form associated with tipus taste. the hilt is jade and the blade wootz, and again, incorporates the tiger motif. like the wellington sword, this could have been a gift, decorated whilst in tipus possession.
none of this actually answers your question. why were european blades favoured over wootz? in tipus court (which doesnt speak for the rest of the south) he seemed to cater for the fashion of the time. the trade routes in the south, both through the french and portuguese were extensive and there are early accounts of the bazaars selling european trade blades. there are accounts from early english sources, claiming they would not use native steel as 'butterknives' as there are brittle and not usable on a battle field. obviously these accounts are biased, but tipus reluctance and the evidence found at tanjore hint that this may have been a native feeling as well.
i think finding images of the tipus swords (those with some provenance) will be good to show.
or, maybe finding images is a delaying tactic to avoid reading 90 pages
i can hear mr mcdougall chuckling.
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