Indian mortar shaped like a tiger, 1770

11:03 AM

The magnificent tiger is the national animal of India, featuring significantly in its myths and legends. It is no surprise then, that a sitting tiger, as a symbol of courage and power, would make a menacing mortar, with bombs issuing from its jaws and tiger's stripes visible on its surface.


This mortar was cast in India in the late 18th century, possibly for Tipu Sultan (1753-1799), known as the Tiger of Mysore. It is a testament to the skill of the unknown founder, weighing in at around 2,540kg. Two of these tiger mortars were seized in 1838 by the British Army under Major-General Wilson, at Fort Kurnaul, Madras Presidency, during local disturbances. This example remained unfinished without a drilled vent and cannot therefore be fired. After being sent to England, the mortars were held at the Tower of London.






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