Not Tipu Sultan. Not Tippu Tip either. Who is the person in the viral image?

For the past few years, history enthusiasts and admirers as well as critics of Tipu Sultan, the last Sultan of the kingdom of Mysore, have circulated a picture on social media claiming that it is a photograph of Tipu Sultan. These included BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, and Ramesh Mendola, BJP MLA from Indore.

The image was again posted on Twitter in October 2019 by a user Madhav, who is followed on the platform by the Office of Nirmala Sitharaman.

Multiple news organisations and fact-checking outlets had checked this viral claim, some of whom concluded that the person in the picture is not Tipu Sultan but Tippu Tip (or Tippu Tib), a slave trader from Tanzania of the 19th century. The first ever photograph was clicked in 1826 or 1827 and thus, this picture is not a photograph of Tipu Sultan who died in the year 1799 CE.

Source: SMHoaxSlayer

The same image is also featured on the website of Getty Images, a stock photography website. According to Getty Images, he is Tippu Tib, also known as Hamed bin Mohammed, who was the most successful Swahili-Arab slave trader in Zanzibar. The photograph has been clicked by Bojan Brecelj.

With multiple information outlets stating that this person in the picture is a trader from Zanzibar, Tanzania named Tippu Tip, the matter should end there, except for the fact that there are numerous pictures of Tippu Tib which do not match with above picture claimed to be of him. In fact, another picture posted on the website of Getty Images featuring Tippu shows a person markedly different from the person in the above image.

Juxtaposing the two pictures, it can be seen that there are visible differences in the facial features of the two persons. The person on the left has a long, narrow and slender nose, compared to the person on the right whose nose is widely shaped.

Source: Getty Images

On Twitter, Alt News came across a tweet on the thread of a tweet by The Quint which had posted an article fact-checking the claim about the picture. This tweet mentioned that the person seen in the picture is not Tippu Tip but Mohammed Bin Khalfan, commonly known as Rumaliza, another prominent slave trader of Zanzibar of the 19th century.

We searched for ‘Rumaliza’ online and came across a slew of pictures featuring him.

We noticed that this person closely resembles the picture of the person believed to be Tippu Tip. We placed the picture of Rumaliza next to this image, and the resemblance is striking.

  1. The facial features are nearly identical. The nose is long and slender, and the ears are peculiarly shaped.

2. The robe worn by the persons in both pictures has the same design.

3. The dagger which can be seen tucked inside the robe in both pictures is identical.

In conclusion, the picture, circulated aggressively by social media users claiming it represents Tipu Sultan, is not the picture of Tippu Tip either, as inferred by media outlets. The picture instead closely resembles Rumaliza, another slave trader of Zanzibar, Tanzania.

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