Padri gun overall
Overall length

96 cm

Barrel length

66.4 cm

Caliber

18 mm

Weight

4327 grams

Materials

Iron, brass, silver, tin, steel, cotton, chicken wing wood.

Origin

Minangkabau people

Padang Highlands

West-Sumatra

Dating

Gun 18th to early 19th century

Modifications 19th century

Provenance

From a Dutch private collection

Price €1600, -

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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 Malacca 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, blowpipes 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.

 

After this flying start, firearms technology seems to have stagnated and the now outdated matchlock system remained in use in Malaysia and Sumatra until the first decades of the 19th century.

On the island of Sumatra, the local matchlock was called satingar. It is known as the “Padri gun” in Dutch sources, named after the Padris, Muslim clerics from Sumatra against whom they fought the Padri Wars of 1803-1837.

They always lack a ramrod, because according to sources the guns were simply stomped on the ground with their butt ends to make the heavy ball sink down the barrel.1

 

Notes to introduction
1. Louis Constant Westenenk; Het Padri geweer. Weekblad voor Indië. Nummer 18, 5de jaargang. 1908.

 

This example

A matchlock musket in a style that was produced mainly by the Minangkabau of West-Sumatra, which were primarily produced in the town of Salimpaung until the Dutch captured it in 1822.1

It has a heavy octagonal barrel of a large 18 mm caliber. The lock is made of cast brass components and brass plates, and even the spring is brass. The stock is made of jīchì mù (雞翅木) or “chicken wing wood”. Native to southern China, it was used for high-end furniture making in southern China, prized for its patterning, it was and is very expensive.

The lock mechanism is entirely complete, made of heavy brass and in very good condition throughout. It even retains its two original fuse holders that are suspended from a nut at the end of the serpentine's pivot. It has an external brass spring.

These tend to be very large and heavy guns, but this one is surprisingly stubby and short; It was most likely shortened from a full-length musket into a carbine-style gun during its working life. The piece underwent several other after-market modifications including a sight that was soldered on, and ornamental silver and brass plates that were soldered onto the capucines.

At the base of the barrel is a stylized flower, possibly a maker's mark.

 

Comparable examples

A very similar piece was in the collection Westerenk, first published in 1909, said to have been from the Padang Highlands.

Padri guns compared

The Westerenk example, top.
Our example, bottom.

 

Notes
1. The full gun was published in Louis Constant Westenenk; Het Padri geweer. Weekblad voor Indië. Nummer 18, 5de jaargang. 1908. The above close-up was published in: J.E. Jasper en Mas Pirngadie; De inlandsche kunstnijverheid in Nederlandsch Indië, Deel V. s'Gravenhage, Mouton & Co, 1930. Page 143.

 

Condition

Very good condition overall. A small repair to the butt end of the wooden stock, a chip was glued back. Some repairs to the soldering. Some usual wear and tear. See photos.

 

Notes to introduction
1. Louis Constant Westenenk; Het Padri geweer. Weekblad voor Indië. Nummer 18, 5de jaargang. 1908.

Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra
Padri gun from Sumatra

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