Along with the more traditional jeweled sword and scabbard, this impressive gun served as a ceremonial object, held by one of Sultan Mahmud I’s attendants during state ceremonies. While the flamboyant decoration of the gun lent itself to public spectacle, the experience of extracting its treasures from the gun’s stock is a more personal act. This video reveals the various components of this ornate gun.
image/text credit: Asian Art Museum
Referencing the elite pastimes of hunting and writing, this ceremonial jeweled musket set includes a dagger (Walters 51.76), pen box (Walters 51.78), penholder with reed pen (Walters 51.87), penknife (Walters 57.620), a cleaner (Walters 51.89), and a spoon (Walters 51.88) – all conveniently housed within the butt and breech of the musket.
The pens and penknives were important elements in the calligrapher’s toolset and the hardness of the reed used for the pens throughout the Islamic lands requires a good blade to make a clean cut. The small spoon was used to put powder in the flash-pan before firing. Each object is elaborately decorated with gold and gemstones just as much as the musket.
The hinged panel of the musket butt contains an inscription in diamonds. This inscription is of an imperial monogram (“tughra”) of the Ottoman ruler Sultan Mahmud I, who reigned 1730-54. The artist Muhammad and the musket’s owner, Ahmad Khan, are named in an inscription as well as the date, which is slightly effaced..via(art.thewalters).
At some point, the lock of the gun was replaced with a used lock from the late 18th century. The musket was later placed in association with the Devisme gun case (Walters 64.165) and its accessories, to create the so-called “Turkish Hunting Set.”