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Tipu's throne goes under the hammer on April 2

March 24, 2009 12:36 IST

After Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings, some more of India's heritage is to go under the hammer -- this time, a gem-set gold finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan will be auctioned in London next week.

The recently discovered gem-encrusted gold finial plundered from Tipu Sultan's huge golden throne is being put up for sale in the British capital on April 2, ten years after it was found lying in the vaults of an English bank.

The object, found by the Bonhams Islamic Department during a routine valuation, is one of three surviving tiger head finials that adorned Tipu's elaborate throne.

It had lain at Featherstone Castle, Northumberland, where it was listed in an 1843 inventory of the late Baron Wallace of Knarsdale (1768-1844), who oversaw the East India Company, and afterwards was hidden away in a bank.

In fact, the famous golden throne was broken up so quickly -- much to the disapproval of the then Governor -- General Lord Wellesley -- following the fall of Seringapatam that little is known about the fate of the remaining relics.

However, a large gold tiger head from the front of the throne platform now resides at Windsor Castle, while another surviving finial lies at Powis Castle, acquired by the second Lady Clive in India.

Auctioneers Bonhams, who have described the finial as actually "one of the most important Tipu items ever to appear for sale", valued it at 800,000 pounds, the British media has reported.

"It holds huge fascination for both India and Britain as it is part of our shared history. It is, without a doubt, of the greatest historical significance as it belongs to the most important symbolic object in Tipu's kingdom, his throne, which he refused to mount until he had defeated the British," Claire Penhallurick of Bonhams was quoted as saying.

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