𝗖𝗥𝗢𝗨𝗖𝗛𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗧𝗜𝗚𝗘𝗥, 𝗛𝗜𝗗𝗗𝗘𝗡 𝗧𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗨𝗥𝗘
Some know him as Tipu Sultan, others refer to him as Tippoo Sahib but he is most celebrated as the 𝙏𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙈𝙮𝙨𝙤𝙧𝙚.
Now commonly demonised by certain political parties in Britain and in India, the image and legacy of this tremendously influential and formidable military leader and statement is often the subject of controversy and debate.
𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐓𝐢𝐠𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬
- Tipu Sultan
Although his detractors portray him as a cruel and immoral dictator, Tipu was actually a committed Muslim who inherited the reign over a vast population of Hindu subjects (which was the case with most Muslim rulers in India).
One man's hero is another's villain.
One thing that both friends and foes could agree upon, however - was his formidable leadership and advanced military strategies. Tipu Sultan successfully combined modern European military techniques alongside traditional Asian war strategy, he fought with modern firepower while also relying on Elephants in battle, such a versatile and novel combination of the old and the new was seldom seen anywhere else in his day.
Tipu Sultan ruled over the Indian kingdom of Mysore, which he (and his father Hyder Ali) defended against British interests on several occasions, between 1767 and 1792. Tipu Sultan was perceived as a threat and obstacle to the East India Company as well as his Indian rivals (Hindu). Tipu Sultan was described as follows, in a memo to the Court of Directors of the East India Company in 1788.
𝑯𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍, 𝒂𝒎𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔 𝑷𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝑯𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏, 𝒘𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒑𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉 𝒐𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑬𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒉 𝒊𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒚𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒆𝒕 𝒘𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒇
Thus, with the aid and support of the Nizam of Hyderabad and his army, the combined Anglo-Indian forces finally defeated Tipu Sultan and killed him on May 4th 1799 (the fourth Mysore War). They also captured his former capital - Seringapatam.
Tipu's territory was then partitioned and taken over by the East India Company and its allies. Following his death, Tipu Sultan's magnificent turban and dagger were recovered by the British who then offered these relics as trophies to the Marquis Cornwallis (the former Governor-General of India). Tipu's turban is covered in Blue Steel, Gold trimmings, Leather, Silk and fine Velvet lining with clearly visible Tiger stripes representing Tipu's reputation as a fearless warrior.
The turban was also adorned with Qur'anic script (in Persian calligraphic style) and was said to have been soaked in the well of Zam-Zam in Makkah, for additional Barakah (Blessing). Although it is reported that the British found several turbans in Tipu's palace, the one pictured below was sent to Lord Cornwallis in 1799 and inherited by his heirs, changing hands from generation to generation until it was finally transferred into the custody of the National Army Museum in 1971 nearly two hundred years later.
Great Britain discovered so much wealth in Tipu's palace that they elected a "Prize Committee" to sort through the priceless items. They were astonished by the vast amount of resources and exquisite relics in his possession, describing them in the following terms
𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒚 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒔𝒆
They also found approximately 2,000 rare manuscripts and books in his library, which they sent back to England, some items were sold and others distributed among the participants and members of the "Prize Committee".
Tipu's love of everything Tiger related is evident in the fact that he kept no fewer than 6 Tigers with him, as pets. His love and obsession over Tigers could be seen in nearly everything he did. For example, he ensured that his most soldiers were recognised by special badges bearing the image of a Tiger and he adorned his helmets and swords with exquisite carvings of snarling Tigers.
In fact, he even commissioned the construction of a Mechanical Tiger which appears to be devouring a British soldier. This most ingenuous contraption was later seized by the British and is now on display at Victoria & Albert Museum.
Oh, and one more interesting detail. Napoleon was in contact with Tipu Sultan, he was proposing a Franco-Indian Alliance to inhibit the British from continuing their expansion and exploit of the Sub-continent.
This greatly disturbed the British and the rest is history....