The Tiger’s Dream – Meet Tipu Sultan at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar; 29 September 2014 – 24 January 2015

This exhibition delves into the life and times of Tipu Sultan, the South Indian ruler, statesman, and patron.

Drawn entirely from the MIA collection, and featuring many objects which have never been displayed in Qatar, the centerpiece is a group of 24 paintings showing Tipu’s victory at the Battle of Pollilur in 1780.

A part of the preparation artwork of  Pollilur Mural made on Gouache paper with cotton backing

A part of the preparation artwork of Pollilur Mural made on Gouache paper with cotton backing

Tipu’s victory was recreated as a wall painting in Tipu’s palace, the Darya Daulat Bagh. It survives to this day, although it has been heavily restored.

The Battle of Pollilur, fought in September 1780 between the British East India Company and the forces of Tipu Sultan and his father Haidar Ali, was described as ‘the severest blow that the British ever sustained in India’, and resonated for years in both Britain and Mysore.

The cycle of paintings on display in The Tiger’s Dream appears to be a preparatory attempt at the mural, and thus preserves details which have been lost. In their original state, the paintings on display were one continuous roll of rice paper, approximately 2 meters high and 9 meters wide, but they have since been cut into 24 separate pieces. On display in the exhibition and above, the painting has been digitally re-stitched, allowing it to be seen again as a single artwork.

This is only the second time that these paintings have been shown as a cycle in the last 30 years, and the first time since they were divided that they will be reconstituted as one piece, using digital imaging.

Alongside this unique group is a selection of objects which reflect Tipu’s image as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’.

Mysore cannon from the time of Tipu Sultan

Mysore cannon from the time of Tipu Sultan

Cannon from the Sultanate of Mysore, 1219 Mauludi/1204 AH/1790-91 CE
Cast at Sriringapatna
Copper alloy, gilding
Length: 254cm, weight: 481kg
Signed ‘Ahmad Pali’

Like many other objects in this exhibition, this cannon is laden with tigers and inscriptions. The tiger motif is most forcefully expressed by the snarling tiger heads at the muzzle (front), trunnions (on the sides) and cascabel (back) of the gun barrel. Within a pair of tiger stripes on the barrel, an inscription calls on the ‘triumphant lion of God’, a phrase found regularly in calligraphic designs of this period. This inscription also provides the place and date of manufacture, while the presence of the heart-shaped ‘Haydar’ talisman shows that the cannon was cast at the sultan’s foundry.

A number of talks, tours and workshops around Tipu Sultan and his times have also been scheduled during the course of this exhibition.

Tipu has been a controversial character for over two hundred years; this exhibition will explore the man through the material culture and imagery which he patronised.

Reference:

Text taken almost in verbatim with images, courtesy of MIA, Qatar. Kindly visit http://www.mia.org.qa/en/tigers-dream for more details

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About Olikara

An engineer, history buff, collector of South Indian antiques.
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3 Responses to The Tiger’s Dream – Meet Tipu Sultan at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar; 29 September 2014 – 24 January 2015

  1. ibrahim says:

    Dear Nidhin,
    Are the painintings depicting the battle of pollilur replicas or from tipu’s actual time?

    • Olikara says:

      They are (supposed to be) the preparatory ones. The murals may have been drawn(for the first time because they been altered over several touchups now) keeping these paintings as the benchmark.

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