Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Bird of Paradise from Tipu Sultan’s Throne, 1787-91

Bird of Paradise
Created 1787-1791
Gold, Silver, Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies
Stolen from the Throne of Tipu,
Sulatan of Mysore, 1799
Presented to George III
The Royal Collection
Here’s something that Mary of Teck didn’t get her hands on! Instead, it came into The Royal Collection via King George III who was equally responsible for adding objects to the collection, albeit in a different way.

Prior to being given to George III, the “Bird of Paradise” was actually a piece of the magnificent golden throne (made up of life-sized gold and bejweled tigers) of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, India. The bird of diamonds, rubies, gold, emeralds, pearls and silver sat atop the throne and was considered a symbol of happiness. Should the bird ever touch the ground, that would mean an end to peace. Well, the bird hit the ground. In 1799, when Tipu Sultan’s citadel was ransacked and he was overthown and killed, British soldiers hacked his glorious throne to pieces and took the prizes home as glittering trophies. This stolen beauty was presented to George III by The East India Company. George III gave it to
Queen Charlotte who bequeathed it to their daughters, who, in turn gave it to King George IV around 1818.

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