Tiger Automaton Plays Music While Mauling a Man to Death

The Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore from 1782-1799, adopted the tiger as his royal symbol. He fought many battles against the British throughout his reign. So after a particularly painful defeat against the British:

He ordered the walls of houses in Seringapatam to be painted with scenes of tigers mauling Europeans. Live tigers were kept in the city and there were stories of prisoners thrown into the tiger-pits.

Tipu must have been intrigued by a news item widely reported in India and Britain in 1793, only months after he had been compelled to sign the hated Treaty of Seringapatam. A young Englishman out shooting near Calcutta had been carried off by 'an immense riyal tiger...four and a half feet high and nine long', sustaining fatal injuries. The victim was the only son of General Sir Hector Munro, who had been concerned in a crushing defeat inflicted on Haidar and Tipu in the second Mysore War.

The death of young Munro delighted the Tipu Sultan, so he commissioned the creation of this macabre automaton. The Tipu Tiger, as it is known today, was damaged by a German air raid during World War II. But when it was fully functional, turning the crank would cause the tiger roar and the Munro's left arm to flail about.

Link -via The Oddment Emporium | Photo: Victoria & Albert Museum

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