A gem-set gold pendant from the treasury of the legendary Indian ruler, Tipu Sultan, is among the star lots in the sale of the contents of Lord Glenconner’s St Lucian home at Bonhams on September 28.
The gold pendant is set with a 38 carat emerald surrounded by nine precious stones including topaz, blue sapphire, ruby, diamond and pearl. It is one of the very few pieces of jewellery from Tipu Sultan’s fabulous treasury to have survived in its original setting.
Tipu Sultan ruled Mysore in the late 18th century and became famous for his ferocious and bloody opposition to the extension of British rule. He was known as the Tiger of Mysore and once said, “I would rather live a day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep”. Tipu’s Treasury – which was stuffed with jewels, gold arms and fine cloth - was dispersed after his eventual defeat and death in the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799. The British victory was followed by extensive looting as well as a more orderly division of the spoils and the pendant ended up in the possession of a Major General Harris who brought it to England.
Other major items in the Glenconner sale include a rare 18th century South Indian carved emerald figurine (estimate £40,000-60,000); a late Mughal inscribed emerald bearing the name of Prasanna Coomar Tagore from 1826 (estimate £25,000-35,000) and an impressive North Indian 19th century silver sheet-covered wood tester bed (estimate £15,000-20,000).
The 3rd Lord Glenconner, formerly Colin Tennant, was best known for transforming the barren Caribbean island of Mustique into a luxurious and glamorous playground for the rich and famous. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the island become renowned for sensational parties with guest lists of aristocrats, rock stars and royalty.
From Mustique, Lord Glenconner moved to St Lucia in the early 1990s, together with his pet elephant, and settled in ‘Beau House’ which is idyllically located between the two Pitons in the south-east of this exotic island.