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HMS Seringapatam [Tipu Sultan?]


Object connections:

Collection Figureheads
ExhibitionsTraders: The East India Company and Asia
User collections Traders Remixed - Power by YouthAdvisoryGroup
The Company in crisis by NMMExhibitions
Cute animals by BirgittaPeippo
Gallery locationTraders Gallery (Floor plans)
VesselsSeringapatam 1819 (HMS)

Object details:

Object ID FHD0102
Description Figurehead of HMS 'Seringapatam' a 46-gun fifth-rate (frigate) built for the Navy in India, at Bombay Dockyard, in 1819. It became a receiving ship in 1847 and in 1852 a coal hulk at the Cape of Good Hope, where it was broken up in 1873. The seated turbanned figure is, perhaps erroneously, presumed to represent Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, riding on a roc - a mythical bird of great strength. The upper part of the body is unclothed, more like an elephant mahout, with the right arm raised to support a sun umbrella made of metal. The umbrella, normally born by attendants, is both a practical accoutrement and a symbol of the status of the person sheltered. Tipu was the son and successor of Haidar Ali, Sultan of Mysore, both having a long and bloody antagonism to the extension of British rule in India. Tipu's capital of Seringapatam was finally stormed in 1799 by troops under Sir David Baird, who had also fought his father, when his body was discovered shot through the head under a pile of his supporters'. One of the famous items in the Victoria and Albert Museum is the automaton known as 'Tipoo's tiger' - a large clockwork-driven carved toy comprising a wooden tiger savaging a British soldier, which also originally emitted mechanical growls and screams: this was part of the booty taken from Tipu's palace. This piece is also Indian work. Two parts of the figurehead, possibly replaced in conservation, have ID numbers FHD0102.1 and FHD0102.2 and can be found under the toggle next to the WHOLE/PART field.
Date made 1819

Place made Bombay, India
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials copper; iron; lead paint; pine
Measurements Overall: 1676 x 1143 x 1575 mm
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