Story of the Forgotten Prince II
Prince Gholam Mohamed - Calcutta to Southampton
Prince Gholam Mahomed - Calcutta to Southampton
70 cm x 100 cm, Graphite on drafting film, 2023
Prince Gholam Mahomed - Calcutta to Southampton, maps Tipu Sultan’s last surviving son’s journey from Calcutta to England on PS Ripon.
On 3rd April 1854, Prince Gholam Mahomed arrived at a dock of Southampton with his son Feroz Shah and five servants. He stayed at the Oriental Hotel on Vere Street and soon began to receive invitations to balls, concerts, and attendance with the Queen.
The main purpose of his visit was to appeal to the Board of Directors of the East India Company for the reinstatement of his family’s pension as decided in Article 1 of the Partition Treaty of Mysore of 1799. The prince came to England bearing shawls, manuscripts, and exotic gifts. Close to his departure from England, he also received gifts in return which included: a candelabrum made of Dresden China gifted by the Queen and a clock sent by the Lord and Countess of Debry. The most unusual of all was the gift presented by the 2nd Duke of Wellington - a box containing his father, Arthur Wellesley’s hair. Although not part of direct action, Arthur Wellesley commanded a reserve during the storming of Srirangapatna and was part of the search party that first discovered Tipu’s body. The morning after Tipu’s killing, Wellesley was appointed the governor of Srirangapatna, and he immediately took up residence in the frescoed rooms of Daulat Bagh Palace.
During Prince Gholam Mahomed’s 18-month stay in London, and his many visits to the East India House on Leadenhall Street, one wonders whether he came across the famed automaton Tipu’s Tiger, looted from his childhood palace amongst many other treasures. His vision must have strayed towards the shelves holding precious manuscripts from the Sultan’s library. Or was perhaps his reaction to these trophies of Srirangapatna of stoic submission? At Buckingham Palace, he presented the Queen with two books: Hamlat Haideri and Karnama-e-Haideri. He was granted permission to visit the armory of Windsor Castle and set eyes on his father’s belongings from the Siege of Srirangapatna, after a lapse of 55 years. On presenting the books, he requested them to be placed next to the ‘Huma Bird’ and ‘Tiger head’ from this father’s octagonal throne.
The drawing focuses on two opposing structures: On the left, Tipu Sultan Mosque of Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) built by Prince Gholam Mahomed, and on the right, the halls and gardens of Windsor Castle. The prince departs from Calcutta port and immediately arrives at Southampton, compressing distances including transit ports, the Indian Ocean, and many seas. The flood of people spilling out of the mosque is from the archives of the 1946 riots which led to four days of communal killing in Kolkata. Here these refugees play the role of Prince Gholam Mohamed’s constituency as he makes his way across the Indian Ocean and the many seas to demand restitution. He makes his way to the Windsor castle in his eastern robe and his folded black velvet hat and finally allows fatigue to take over as he encounters the ‘tiger head’ and ‘Huma bird’, the grand remnants of his father’s stolen throne.
Memorial of Prince Gholam Mahomed, on his own behalf and that of the other members of his family, to the British Government, praying that the first Article of the Mysore Treaty be carried into effect in the spirit of said Treaty, and according to its literal terms and good faith, and that provision be made for the suitable maintenance of the whole of the families of Hyder Alii Khan and Tippoo Sultan.
Mackenzie, Colin, 1753? -1821. (1854). Extracts from Capt. Colin Mackenzie's work regarding the dominions of the late Tippoo Sultaun; and correspondence and memorials of Prince Gholam Mohumed and his family addressed to the Government of India and the Hon'ble, the Court of Directors. India: Sandars, Cones, 1854.
Muir, R. (2013). Wellington: The path to victory, 1769-1814 (Ebook central). New Haven.
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