Matchlock Musket


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 378

This is a good example of a fairly plain but well-made and utilitarian Tibetan matchlock in relatively complete condition and with an old provenance. Its fittings consist of a small engraved copper cap at the tip of the fore stock; a plain brass plate on either side of the fore stock just behind the horn block, where it is pierced by a transverse hole for a loop to hold the front of the sling; and an iron lock plate on both sides of the stock. Behind the breech is the most decorative feature of the gun: a very simple pierced copper plate (the escutcheon plate) with scrollwork, lions, and a garuda motif, which is pierced by a slot for the upper arm of the serpentine (see detail). The match-cord pouch, made of leather, is unusual in having a lengthwise flap that closes over eleven copper rings, which pass through slots in the flap. The plain iron barrel flares at the muzzle and has a bead sight and a peep sight. The twist pattern of the barrel forging is also faintly visible. The barrel is attached to the stock by two copper bands and five cord wrappings (the latter being restorations). The horns have no metal caps or bands, and the lower halves are made entirely of iron, rather than horn. There are the remains of a barrel plug, which was originally attached by a cord to the horns. Barrel plugs, usually made of leather or felt with a decorative horsehair tuft, were inserted in the end of the barrel when the gun was not in use to keep out dirt and other debris. The ramrod is missing.

Matchlock Musket, Iron, wood, leather, brass, copper, Tibetan

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