These are not Tipu Sultan’s photographs but of African slave traders


Image 1

Is this Tipu Sultan?

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Image 2

Original Tipu Sultan

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Photos claiming to be of Tipu Sultan are being shared widely on social media. Such posts can be seen here, here and here.

The Tipu Express which travels from Bengaluru to Mysuru is recently renamed as Wodeyar Express by the Railway Ministry. This gained criticism as an attempt to erase Tipu Sultan’s legacy. This also led to a Twitter war where Netizens mentioned Tipu’s massacre which led a particular community people to not celebrate Diwali till date. And these viral images claimed to be of Tipu Sultan is shared widely as a part of the Twitter fight.

What is the truth?

The viral photos are not that of Tipu Sultan and they cannot be. Because it is in 1827 the first photograph was made and announced simultaneously in France and England in 1839. Tipu Sultan was killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war on 4, May 1799. And it is well known that it is impossible to capture a photograph by going back in time.

To know the person in the viral images, we searched them with Google lens.

Image 1

When searching for the first viral image with Google Lens, the ‘Alamy’ website posted this photo and mentioned as “Tippu Tip or Tib (1837 – June 14, 1905), real name Hamad bin Muḥammad bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, was a Swahili-Zanzibari trader. He was famously known by the natives of East Africa as Tippu Tib after the sounds that his many guns made. A notorious slave trader, ivory trader, plantation owner and governor, who worked for a succession of sultans of Zanzibar”.

The ‘Unitedrepublicoftanzania’ website published Tippu Tip’s autobiography which also has this viral image. It is mentioned that Tippu Tip was on the front cover of ‘The Illustrated London News’ dated 7th December 1889. It is also available in the archive of British newspapers.

Another image posted on the same webpage looks similar to our second viral image.

A picture of Tippu Tip with a colonial official was published on the ‘Getty images’ website mentioning Tippu Tip as the most renowned Arab slave and ivory trader in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

A book on Tippu Tip by ‘Stuart Laing’ is found on ‘goodreads’ website with his photo on the cover page.

Image 2

The ‘Alamy’ website mentioned this image also as Tippu Tip which seems untrue.

When this image is searched with Google Lens, it mentioned three personalities including Tippu Tip. The other two are Rumaliza and Majid Bin Said of Zanzibar.

Majid Bin Said’s photo did not resemble the second viral image, but Rumaliza’s image resembles it. Rumaliza is also a slave trader. But we could not verify if the second viral image is of Rumaliza. However, this is neither Tipu Sultan nor Tippu Tip.


It is apparent that the photos shared as Tipu Sultan are not really Tipu Sultan’s but of African slave traders.

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