Tippu Series Part 3: Tippu’s Tiger obsession

Did Tippu really fight (& get a LIMP?) with a TIGER?!? Britishers had merely nicknamed him Tiger of Mysore because of his OBSESSION with the TIGERS & also to describe his ferocious personality. Tipu’s reverence for tigers was well known & his slogan was: Better to live for two days like a Tiger than drag out an existence like a Sheep for two hundred years. Did this slogan stem fourth from his experience at the age of ten?!? His throne was shaped & striped like a tiger, so did many other objects. His elite troops wore tiger badges, a mortar shaped like a tiger, the hilt of his sword was in the form of a snarling tiger. Tippu also had the notion that Tiger brings good luck & blessings; hence the famous hulivesha (man dressed like tiger) preceded the procession of any kind!!

But the most interesting was his favourite toy, the mechanical pipe organ now standing at Victoria & Albert Museum known as Tippoo’s Tiger. Captured & brought back from India by the East India Company’s soldiers, the apparatus consists of a huge tiger lying atop a prostrate man, the tiger sinking its fangs & claws into the helpless individual who, with his pale skin, red coat, & military attire, is easily identifiable as a British soldier. The tiger is also an organ, however, which when wound up would growl & roar menacingly to all nearby, although the passage of time has today robbed this fierce customer of his prior voice. Created by local artisans during the 1790s on the specific order of Tipu, it was designed to encapsulate the fear & terror that the Sultan inspired in Europeans, the savagery of the tiger goring its unfortunate victim a reflection of Tipu’s own military prowess.

Tipu was perhaps pioneer “Robot Master” (or was he a child with lost childhood owning a toy?!?) in the recent history!! No wonder he is been “ideal” for many without proper childhood. Sometimes early in the morning when I see the youngsters with catapult aiming & chasing the cats & kitten, I wonder what is their future going to be? Why the heck they are out so early in the morning …. where are their parents?

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