Fine Malay matchlock musket | Mandarin Mansion

Fine Malay matchlock musket

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com
An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com


Introduction

While the Portuguese are credited for the introduction of firearms in Asia, they were up for a surprise when they attached Malay forces at the rich port city of Melakka in 1511:

"As soon as the junk had passed the sand-bank and had come to an anchor, a short way from the bridge, the Moorish artillery opened a fire on her. Some guns discharged leadballs at intervals, which passed through both sides of the vessel, doing much execution among the crew. In the heat of the action Antonio d'Abreu, the commander, was struck in the cheek from a fusil, carrying off the greater number of his teeth."

João de Barros. Primeira Década da Ásia, Lisboa, 1552.



"There were captured says he, "5000 pieces, of which 2000 were of brass, and the rest of iron. Among them there was one large piece sent by the King of Calicut to the King of Malacca. All the artillery with its appurtenances was of such workmanship that it could not be excelled, even in Portugal.

There were found also matchlocks, blow- pipes for shooting poisoned arrows, bows and arrows, lances of Java, and divers other arms, all which created surprise in those that captured them."

The Son of Alboquerque, Commentarios do grande Afonso d'Alboquerque, Lisboa, 1576.



Historian Fernão Lopes de Castanheda mentions matchlocks (espingardão), and while he reduces the captured cannon to 2000, he says that they threw balls, some of stone, and some of iron covered with lead.

História do descobrimento e conquista da Índia pelos portugueses, Coimbra, 1551.



"The name of the matchlock is satingar, a corruption of the Portuguese espingardão, and the fire-lock is called
sânapang, a corruption of the Dutch snappaan."
... "The names for gunpowder itself are a little singular. In Malay it is called ubat-bâdil, which literally means "missile-charm:" in Javanese it is ubat, or "charm" alone.

Crafword, John: A descriptive dictionary of the Indian Islands & adjacent countries,
Bradbury and Evans, Printers and Whitefriars, London, 1856. Page 23.



Firearms technology probably reached the Malay archipelago in the late 15th century through the same trade routes that brought Islam to the country many centuries before. They were very quick to adapt it, catching the Portuguese by surprise. Quite surprisingly as well, the Javanese seem to have been held in high regard as manufacturers of arms, including firearms. After Malacca was taken by the Portuguese, the Javanese sent an expedition of 12,000 men against Malacca.



De Barros, says that it was provided: "...with much artillery made in Java; for the Javanese are skilled in founding or casting, and in all works in iron, over and above what they have from India.''

João de Barros. Primeira Década da Ásia, Lisboa, 1552.

Even though the Malay army already had muskets when the Portuguese arrived, later Malaysian muskets like this current example show strong Portuguese influence. With its snapping lock, it's what collectors call the "Indo-Portuguese" style matchlock, which was produced among others in Goa and formed the prototype for muskets adopted in the Malay archipelago, Vietnam, and Japan.



Firearms production continued in the region until the 19th century. John Crawford further writes:
"At present a regular manufacture of cutting weapons, matchlocks and cannon, is carried on by the Malays of Banjarmassin in Borneo, and this with a skill surprising for their state of society. As this part of Borneo was long subject to the Javanese, it seems probable that it was this people that introduced the art for many generations the Malays of Menangkabo have been the manufacturers of all kinds of arms for Sumatra. But the skilful manufacture of arms is by no means confined to these places, and I have myself seen matchlocks in Bali, with twisted barrel, inlaid all over in very good taste with gold and silver."

Crafword, John: A descriptive dictionary of the Indian Islands & adjacent countries,
Bradbury and Evans, Printers and Whitefriars, London, 1856. Page 23.



Notes
English translation off all above sources from: Crafword, John: A descriptive dictionary of the Indian Islands & adjacent countries, Bradbury and Evans, Printers and Whitefriars, London, 1856. Page 22-23.


This Example

Overall length: 165.5 cm / 5’4”
Barrel length: 137.3 cm / 4’5”
Caliber: 18 mm / .71 inch
Weight: 5558 grams

Origin: 18th or 19th century, Malaysia.
Materials: Wood, steel, copper, brass, bamboo



Description
A very fine Malay matchlock, locally called satingar. With its snapping lock, it's what collectors call the "Indo-Portuguese" style matchlock.

It has a long and heavy octagonal smoothbore barrel of large caliber. The barrel is of a nice twist-forged construction, designed to be able to bear heavy charges while not exploding at the breech. This makes a potentially more powerful gun, while reducing its total weight.

The barrel is fitted to a deeply patinated dark wooden stock, held by two sheet brass barrel bands. The bands are of modest, practical design with some simple decorative cutouts. We see this more often on Malay guns with otherwise very good locks. See for example another Malay matchlock I had a while ago.

The most spectacular aspect about this gun is the elaborately detailed lock and other matching metalwork. The parts are all cast brass, further chiseled and engraved to enhance their detail. The designs are of typical Malay scrollwork, and braided bands. Then the thick and heavy trigger guard is decorated all over with engravings and scrollwork, some in very deep relief.

The lock plate is curiously fastened with various bamboo pins that lock them in place from the top. It also has a bamboo spring. The gun even retains its touch hole pricker, suspended from a short chain, that was used to clean out the touch hole after repeated firing.

The dark and deeply patinated wooden stock is of a rarer form, not bifurcated but instead ending in a six sided medaillon shaped cross-section. Stylistically, it is closer to some of the earlier European matchlocks these firearms are based on. The butt end is finished with a brass cap with a decorative plate riveted to it.



Use
Typically large and with no channel for a ramrod which seems to indicate they were used resting on a wall or used from a ship's railing like the lantaka. In this case, the ramrod did not need a compartment. When João de Barros decribes matchlocks that shoot through both sides of their vessel, he was probably talking about an early version of these that with the very long barrel and 18mm caliber would certainly be capable of such a feat.



Condition
I've not seen them in this good shape before. Barrels are usually rusted over, probably due to the hot and humid local climate and in part because firearms never enjoyed the esteem that for example the keris enjoyed in these regions. This barrel is very well preserved, and polished to show off its twist-forged construction. Such muskets are often a composite of parts from different periods, and this one is no exception. The priming pan and its cover are a more recent, possibly post-working life construction. Some dings and cracks in the old wooden stock.



Conclusion
A very fine specimen of a rare type of matchlock, the best Malay matchlock I've seen on the market to date.



€ 2600,-

We know that these are expensive to ship, so the price is including international shipping, on us.
(Assuming that the item can legally shipped into your country.)

Interested / questions?
Contact peter@mandarinmansion.com


An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com

An antique Malaysian matchlock musket. www.mandarinmansion.com




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