Search results

Start typing

Eastern Encounters pattern
Eastern Encounters

Drawn from the Royal Library's collection of South Asian books and manuscripts

CAT. NO. 66

The Regulations of Tipu Sultan

Southern Indian, <i>c</i>.1798–9

Manuscript written in Kannada script in 11 lines on silver-flecked paper; set into plain paper margins; illuminated single-page frontispiece; red velvet bindings with gold-tooled leather title panel | 78 fols; 23.6 × 18.6 cm | RCIN 1005094

Under Tipu Sultan, the state of Mysore was one of the most commercially prosperous regions of the subcontinent, exporting vast quantities of cloth, rice, gold, silver, sandalwood, cinnamon, coconuts and elephants to both local and foreign merchants. He personally oversaw the various commercial and administrative departments of Mysore and composed official manuals outlining the instructions and regulations that his court officials should follow (hukmnamas).[212] Even in Tipu’s own lifetime, George III owned an English translation of one of his hukmnama texts, procured by an Englishman during the third Anglo-Mysore War, which was published in 1792 as Mysorean Revenue Regulations, and which the King had bound in red leather and gold-stamped with his royal cipher.[213] This pristine volume is a Kannada translation of one of Tipu’s hukmnamas relating to the accounts and land grants of a monastery, written on high-quality gold-flecked paper. While Persian was the court language of Mysore, Kannada was the language used by Tipu’s many Hindu courtiers who prospered in the service of their Muslim overlord.[214] Its frontispiece is illuminated in the Islamic style but in a distinctly southern Indian idiom and even the calligraphy, in telugu script (read left to right), reflects the hybrid nature of Tipu’s court since it is written with a slight right-to-left slant, presumably by someone whose first language was Persian or Urdu.[215] Stylistically, this manuscript forms a pair with another Kannada volume in the Royal Collection, a treatise on astrology (RCIN 1005093) on the same size and type of paper and which also opens with an illuminated frontispiece. It is possible that they are two surviving volumes from a much larger set of texts in Kannada. Both were re-bound in the early nineteenth century in European red velvet covers with neoclassical-style gold tooling. 

  • [212] See Storey 1927–39, vol. 2, p. 774.

    [213] BL 148.b.10.

    [214] See Moienuddin 2000, pp. 18–23 and Hasan 1975.

    [215] Many thanks to Arani Ilankuberan and Thea Buckley for sharing their thoughts on these two manuscripts. 

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.