ipu's firearms were unique at this period, being signed and dated
by the master craftsman who made them. The gun is signed Asad Khan
Muhammad and dated Seringapatam, 1793/94. The Persian inscription
reads: 'The peerless gun of the Khusrauw of India/which with its
shaft of forked lightning/can seal the fate of his adversary/if
it is aimed at his forehead.' Similar inscriptions, with tiger motifs,
appear on the blades of Tipu's swords.
This is one of the most splendid of all Tipu's firearms, and decorated
with numerous examples of Tipu's personal motifs. In addition to
the carved and inlaid tiger on the stock, the internal cock is in
the shape of a tiger, with a tiny tiger on its back, serving as
the thumb piece for the sliding safety catch. The dark steel of
the barrel is inlaid with innumerable tiger stripes in silver and
at the end of the barrel, a silver tiger stands as the foresight.
The silver escutcheon, side plate, butt plate and trigger guard
all incorporate tiger scenes in low relief, and the flash pan and
frizzen are in the form of a bubri or stylised tiger stripe.
After Tipu's death, this gun was presented to Lord
Cornwallis, Commander-in-Chief during the third Mysore War in
recognition of his continued service in India. He was twice Governor
General (1786 and 1797) and much involved in questions of reform
within the Army in India. Another Tipu gun and a Tipu sword were
once owned by one of Scotland's most famous authors, Sir
Walter Scott. The sword has not been found, but a musketoon,
dated 1793-4 and made in the Court workshop was recently identified
in the Armoury assembled by Sir Walter for Abbotsford, his house
on the Scottish Borders.
Our knowledge and appreciation of Tipu firearms, with their unique decoration
and technical developments, has been extended immeasurably by the enthusiasm
and dedicated research of one man, Robin Wigington. His survey of Tipu
firearms, after more than 25 years of research, assesses both the technical
and the artistic aspects of the subject and also explains the control
marks and the Maludi era of dates, which Tipu introduced in 1786/87.
"In the field of decoration and design, no firearms manufacturer has
ever worked so consistently within such close confines over such a period,"
the author concludes. Fortunately, a significant number of these superb
firearms have been preserved in public collections, where they may still
be seen today.