Little school kids walk into the main building of the Government Museum Egmore to be stopped in front of a miniature model displayed as the ‘exhibit of the week'.
“So, what is that?” asks a museum staff. “It is a bullock cart,” says a girl. Most of them have no clue as to the display – the miniature of the gun used by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan to fight the expansion of English East India Company.
C. Maheswaran, curator, anthropology section, patiently tells them the story — rather, the history — behind the miniature model. “At the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799 A.D during Mysore War III, the English East India Company captured the State gun of Hyder and Tipu. In memory of this historical moment, it created a model of the gun in brass at its gun carriage manufactory in Madras the same year,” he says, adding the state gun is in Srirangapatinam.
The children keep nodding their heads and walk away and the next batch of noisy kids troops in.
“It is like a time capsule. We don't know where the gun carriage manufactory was in Madras but it was fabricated under the supervision of Major John Maintland,” he says.
The swell of the muzzle of mounted gun is shaped like the conventional head of Yazhi (the mythical animal). Urdu inscriptions are noticed on the stock of carriage. On the vertical bar, the word ‘Seringapatam' (Srirangapatinam) is noticed and on the horizontal bar the words, ‘progress' and ‘decline', are inscribed in equi-distance.
“There is this word ‘Hoonsur” inscribed in Kannada. Probably, it could be the place where Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan manufactured the guns,” says Mr. Maheswaran. Interestingly, the Government Museum acquired this miniature exhibit for Rs 60.