UK bars export of Tipu Sultan’s rare Flintlock Sporting Gun


New Delhi/London, May 29 (UNI) An 18th-century Flintlock Sporting Gun made for Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, inlaid with gold and silver and valued at £2 million, has had its export barred to allow time for a buyer to come forward to keep it in the UK for public study and education.

UK Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay has placed an export bar on Tipu Sultan of Mysore’s Flintlock Sporting Gun in the hope that it can be put on public display here in the UK.

The Minister’s decision follows the independent advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.

The elaborately decorated gun was made for the Sultan of Mysore and is dated between 1793 and 1794. The fourteen-bore gun was designed for shooting game and is signed by its maker, Asad Khan Muhammed.

Known as the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan was a defiant opponent of the British East India Company and its allies during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. He was killed on 4 May 1799 while defending his stronghold of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna).

Following his death, his distinctive personal weapons were given to leading military figures. This firearm was presented to General the Earl Cornwallis, who had previously fought Tipu between 1790 and 1792.

The expert committee found the gun to be of aesthetic importance as well as significant to the study of Tipu Sultan and his court, to Lord Cornwallis, to British history, and to the conclusion of the third Anglo-Mysorean war, a statement from the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport said.

The Flintlock Sporting Gun of Tipu Sultan is made of hardwood stock, carved, with silver mounts, its steel barrel is chiselled and inlaid with gold and silver. Its length is 138 cm. The length of the barrel is 97.8 cm.

Committee Member Christopher Rowell said:

“This is the finest and most elaborately decorated of the personal firearms made for Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore… It is extremely beautiful as well as technically advanced.

“The mechanism allows two shots to be fired from the single barrel without reloading, revealing the probable influence of itinerant French gunmakers. Tipu’s court was sophisticated and its workshops produced a variety of fine metalwork including weaponry and ordnance, which was stylish as well as deadly.

“…Given its aesthetic significance, its impeccable provenance, its scope for further research and its relevance to both British and Indian history, I hope that this superb fowling piece made for the unfortunate ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, will be acquired by a British Institution where it can be appreciated by all.”

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

“This visually striking firearm is a significant antiquity in its own right, as well as an illustration of the important, interconnected history between Britain and India.

“I hope that it can be shared with the widest possible public and used to deepen our understanding of a fraught period which shaped both our nations.

The decision on the export licence application for the gun will be deferred for a period ending on 25 September 2023 (inclusive). At the end of the first deferral period owners will have a consideration period of 15 Business Days to consider any offer(s) to purchase the gun at the recommended price of £2 million. The second deferral period will commence following the signing of an Option Agreement and will last for four months.”



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