Description of the Palanquins Presented to Tipu's Sons by Lord Cornwallis

Steuart & Co. Coachmakers in Calcutta, were specialized in embroidering palanquins for the native princes of India.

Two superb State Palanquins were built by them by order of Marquis Cornwallis for Tipu's sons Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, while they remained as hostages to the British at Madras, followed by Tipu Sultan's defeat in the 3rd Anglo-Mysore war. These were valued at about Rs. 6 or 7000.

Following is the description of the palanquin given in the 'European Magazine of 1796':-

Side view of the Oriental style palanquin, with four shutters and four panels to the viewer, a pole with animal-head shaped top to right; below image, a scale of feet from 1 to 12 - British Museum

'These state palanquins were executed in the most costly and magnificent style. All the moldings round the framing were solid silver highly polished and of the most exquisite workmanship. On the extremities of the bamboos were heads of various animals elegantly embossed and engraved, to represent life; and the panels exhibited on the different compartments various trophies of war, to accord with the taste of that warlike prince (ie, Tipu Sultan). They were lined with rich crimson velvet, on which trophies of war, and other ornaments, were magnificently embroidered with gold bullion lace'.

The palanquins were presented to the young princes in the absence of Lord Cornwallis by Lady Oakley, wife of Charles Oakley, the Governor of Madras. When the princes were escorted to Srirangapatna by Captain Doveton, he presented the palanquins during his audience with Tipu Sultan. The Sultan observed, "I admire them much, but where true friendship exists, a present is but a form".

However, Tipu Sultan never used it. After Tipu's death in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war, when the British looted his treasury, they found those palanquins, and they appeared never to have been unpacked.

Steuart & Co. Coachmakers, the company, became famous and had soon afterwards orders for State Palanquins from the Nawabs of Arcot and Lucknow, and most of the native princes.