Peculiar shield with catching hook, used by the Santali people of Bengal.
119.5 cm / 47 inch
75.5 cm / 29.7 inch
11 mm / .43 inch
Jalore, Rajasthan, North India
Steel, iron, wood, hardwood, gold, silver, leather, bone
Late 18th - early 19th century
From the collection of Dr. Alexander von Hoffmeister.
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A smaller sized Indian matchlock musket or toradar. According to Elgood, of this type start to appear in miniatures since around 1775 and remained in use to around the mid 19th century.1 The size is quite handy for extended hunting trips, and many were also used by children and women, who in court circles often learned to hunt from a young age. These shorter ones always tend to be comparatively high quality compared to the bulk of full-length toradar.
This example has a beautiful barrel with golden damascening, mostly intact, at muzzle and breech. The muzzle end flares out nicely and is decorated in relief with floral motifs and arrangements of seven dots. It has a copper fire-sight.
The barrel has the rather rare feature of being stippled all-over, possibly done to reduce glare in night time use. The gold is also not polished bright, but kept in a matte finish, quite possibly for the same reason.
The lock mechanism is in good working order. It is encased with pierced, drilled and engraved steel plates that are held together with iron pins with rosettes. The steel trigger is engraved in a leaf motif. Behind the breech is a piece of dark hardwood, very elegantly fluted. It’s so dark and dense it almost looks like horn but upon very close inspection a wood grain can be seen.
The stock is made out of two pieces of reddish wood, connecting with a V-splice under the silver band. This seems to be the original construction, not a later repair. It is currently held together with a silver band, but markings on the wood suggest this used to be leather straps like the fire section of the barrel. The stock used to have two silver loops for a carrying strap, the one on the front now lost. The remaining is of nice, thick quality. The gun comes complete with its original iron ramrod. The butt is capped with bone.
On either side of the stock are stamped old armory numbers. 27, and 47. The 27 mark is made redundant by a zero stamped through it. There is also a small sticker on the stock, with something written on it in a local freehand script.
In addition there is a dot-punch mark on the left side of the barrel:
It says: "राज.जालोर-तह.आहोर न.૯૮." which literally translates to "Raj. Jalore - Teh. Aahore # 98".
This stands for Rajasthan (province), Jalore (district), Tehsil (administrative division), Ahor (town).
In the Hermann Historica auction of April 27-28, 2017 several remarkably similar guns were sold.2
One of them, lot 2564, bears a chiseled inscription: राज जालोर तह पाँच रण ७२४, transliterated: "Raj Jalore Teh Pac Raṇa 724"which translates to: "Rajasthan (province), Jalore (district), Tehsil (administrative division), Pac (probably short for panchayati, a local administration), battle" suggesting it was used in a battle.
According to Himmat Singh Parihar, of a family of local antique dealers in Udaipur, such markings were often done by the local police after confiscating firearms, which were later often auctioned off, often to European buyers.
Some minor age-related losses, some wear for example where the serpentine protrudes from the stock. The usual dents and scratches here and there, nothing serious, see pictures. Almost all the gold remaining, which is quite rare on these.
A lovely example of the rarer, shorter variety of the Indian matchlock musket that was often used by the upper class as a sporting gun. The piece is of quality manufacture and with some rare features, like the completely stippled barrel which must have been a very labor intensive process. It is in near-excellent state of preservation. Its markings, and that of a very similar musket point to it being from Jalore district in Rajasthan, north India.
The price is including international shipping, on the house.
(Assuming that the item can legally shipped into your country.)
1. Robert Elgood, Arms and Armour at the Jaipur Court, the Royal Collection, Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2015. Pages 256-257.
2. Thanks Peter Willems of Helgot to point me towards the similar examples auctioned at Hermann Historica.
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