Archive for the ‘flintlock’ Tag

Historical weapons impress Nashikites


Weapons used by women and children

Replicas of historical weapons displayed at an exhibition in Bhonsala Military School spoke volumes about the wars during different periods

Sumita Sarkar Mahatmanagar
The replica of historical arms and armours captured the imagination of children, youngsters and elders alike, who felt transported to different periods of history merely by seeing, feeling and handling the weapons. The venue was the auditorium of the Bhonsala Military School, where the replicas were put up for display on Friday and Saturday.

Where museums failed, Institute of Research and Development in Oriental Studies – Arms and Armour (IRDOS) Pune, seems to have scored a point. The two-day arms and armoury exhibition by IRDOS is a case in point. “Unlike in museums where weapons are only put up for exhibition, here a thorough research was conducted and the weapons were displayed with eight different themes on eight different boards,” informed Rakesh Dhawade, a research fellow at IRDOS. At the entrance was the Replica Stall where all historical arms and armours were displayed. “The intention behind having this stall was that little children’s curiosity would be satisfied by touching and feeling these replicas,” said Dhawade adding that this would in turn instil love and interest for history in them. “They will find answers to their queries about historical wars. They also learn to value freedom. In Europe, such kinds of facilities are available. In whole of Asia, only IRDO has it,” he informed. Replicas of different types of guns, gun powder flasks, variety of bayonets, variety of swords (Indian and European), various types of armours and counter weapons, shields, spears, were on display. Touching and handling these weapons gave a fair idea of how difficult fighting in wars were earlier.

Lamellar armour, leather armour, chest plate armour, different types head gears fascinated people as they tried to lift and wear these with the help of the volunteers. A very rare weapon, ’gurj’ (mace), which is nearly 400-450 years old was also on display. Brown base India pattern long barrel musket, which was used in India’s first war of Independence in 1857, assumed an important place in the exhibition. “This weapon gave us a deep feeling of patriotism,” expressed a visitor and a college student, Mohit Shah. Replica of another rare weapon, Matchlock Gun, was also handled by the excited students.

After this stall, were the boards with themes. The first board displayed the weapons of the Marathas, like Tiger Claws, Bichwa, Maadu, Bhidchir, Dandpatta etc. The second board had a variety of battle-axes and spearheads, some sacrificial battle-axes known as Gandarmuhali in Andhra Pradesh, the famous Safejung from Punjab and spears etc. “The institute had differentiated between hunting and fishing spears,” informed Dhawade. Cavalry arms like deep-curved swords, broad belt battle saddle axes, Naiza-type of spear etc adorned the third board. On the fourth, daggers were on display, like Afghan dagger – Peshkabj, Tirreghati sura, Kukri etc.

Ceremonial (Darbari) weapons used by kings, knights and Generals occupied the fifth board. Fully inlaid with gold, silver and ivory, the weapons, indicated the rank of the person wearing it, his socio-economic status and socio- economic stability of that period. The hilt of one of the dagger was made of jade!

The sixth board was the most unique one as it displayed weapons of women and children throughout India, who had a huge contribution in the history of the country. “For the first time we are seeing such kinds of weapons!” exclaimed Shreeja Nair a school student. The seventh board had a variety of armours and counter weapons. “It is very important to show both, or else it would be incomplete information. When we say that one could protect oneself with armours, we also need to inform that counter weapons for breaking these armours also existed,” explained Dhawade. The last board depicted the development of firearms. Various types of pistols and cartridge instruments, historical guns etc were on display. Matchlock, Flintlock and Percussion Cape were the specialties of the board. The guns (replicas) were used by Indians in the 1857 war and two of these were also used by actor Aamir Khan for his period film, ’Mangal Pandey’, informed Dhawade.

The idea of displaying replicas of ancestral weapons was unique for Nashikites and a good way of familiarising people, especially children, with the weapons of the by-gone era. It was like periods being re-lived.


This classic engraved Flintlock from Lucknow India features an 8″ engraved barrel in steel finish engraved fittings and resin simulated wood stock.

Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India.

Guns, Influence, and Power

Reviewed by: Timothy May, Department of History, North Georgia College and State University.
Published by: H-War (August, 2006)

There is no question that the advent of gunpowder weapons permanently changed the course of warfare, but exactly how this happened varies from region to region. Often in the public’s mind, the impact of firearms is relegated to Europe and its origins in China; somehow everything in between is overlooked. Thus, Iqtidar Alam Khan’s volume, Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India will hopefully begin to fill that void.

Khan’s work is important for two reasons. First, it traces the origins and influence of gunpowder weapons in India as a regional history rather than as an ancillary to a larger work. The author critically examines when firearms appeared in India, and then what other influences–whether local or foreign–played in the development of the weapons. Moreover, he discusses their impact, not only on the medieval state, but on society as a whole. Second, Khan’s work serves as a model for other regional studies on firearms as well as the distribution of other forms of technology or goods.

Chapter 1 of Gunpowder and Firearms discusses the diffusion of firearms into the subcontinent by focusing on the role of the Mongols as agents of transmission. Although the author notes that the Chinese had been using gunpowder weapons before the Mongols arrived on the scene, it is not until the end of the thirteenth century that firearms of any sort, particularly rockets, appear in the Sultanate of Delhi or in regional literary references. While he places the greatest emphasis on the Mongols as the agents of technological transmission, Khan does not rule out other sources such as a Himalayan or sea route. Regardless of their origin, knowledge and use of these weapons quickly spread.

Chapters 2 through 4 focus on the use of artillery from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. Although cannons became somewhat common throughout India, the Mughals used them the most effectively, thus giving rise to one of the popularly called Gunpowder Empires (along with the Ottomans and Safavids). Yet, these three chapters emphasize one key point. As in late medieval Europe, the expense of cannons meant that few among the nobility besides the ruler possessed the resources to purchase them. Fortress walls gave little shelter against cannons and the nobility quickly learned to acquiesce to the authority of the ruler.

Although similar situations appeared among some of the regional Indian states, the rise of the Mughals brings this phenomenon into better focus. Chapter 3 continues to deal with centralization of power, but in the context of the arrival of not only the Mughals, but also the Portuguese with their European metallurgical and artillery advances. From the Portuguese, the Mughals and others learned how to make cannons from wrought iron, thus reducing the cost of the weapon, while at the same time improving it. The Mughals, who learned from Ottoman advisors, quickly grasped the importance of light artillery as it became less expensive and more easily manufactured. While magnificent in siege warfare, the lack of maneuverability of heavy cannon left it virtually useless on the battlefield.

Chapter 4 discusses the dominance of the Mughals. By the time of Akbar, heavy mortars and cannons were rarely used in the Mughal military. Light cannons that could be used on the battlefield were the mainstay of the Mughal artillery corps, including the shaturnal, similar to swivel guns, but carried on the backs of camels and even in the howdahs of elephants. As this chapter ties into the arrival of the British East India Company, Khan continues to discuss technological developments, or the lack thereof.

In addition to artillery, handheld firearms also became ubiquitous throughout the Mughal Empire. Chapter 5 examines the nature and development of handguns in the Mughal Empire. In addition to local factors, Khan includes a good discussion of Western influences, which in this instance includes the Ottoman Empire. Western influences included new technologies in firearms manufacture. However, not all of these became widespread. As a result, stagnation occurred particularly in terms of standard weapons. The preferred weapon became the matchlock, even after other technologies surpassed it. Why the matchlock remained the weapon of choice ties into chapter 6, which discusses the role of the matchlock musket in the centralization of Mughal authority.

Mughals also used musketeers to maintain their authority. Babur began his career with a scant musket bearing force of just over a hundred men, but by the time of Akbar, over 35,000 musketeers existed in the Mughal military. One reason for this was that, despite the cost of their weapon, the musketeers were actually less expensive than garrisoning cavalry forces. The expense of feeding the man and his horse grossly exceeded that of a musketeer. Thus, a small but trained force of musket wielding troops allowed the Mughals to assert their authority in even the most remote provinces. This was also possible as, for several decades, the nobility were forbidden to recruit their own forces of musketeers. At the same time, this mass force of troops with firearms undermined the Mughals. As the matchlock became ubiquitous, its cost dropped, but it also was deemed very reliable by those using it. Thus, even when other technologies came into the region, like flintlock muskets, the Mughals failed to adopt them due to economic reasons as well as the matchlock’s popularity.

While firearms aided the process of centralization, it also played a role in undermining the Mughal’s authority. Because of the affordability of matchlocks and the relative simplicity in gaining expertise with them, one did not have to train for years to be a warrior. Ultimately this let to the diffusion of firearms into the general populace and resistance to central authority. Beginning in the late-sixteenth century, not only political rebels, but even peasants opposed to tax collection acquired firearms. As domestic tensions grew, the widespread use and manufacture of matchlock muskets played a role in the breakdown of central authority, and the Mughals, despite several innovative attempts, failed to halt the eventual Balkanization of their empire. Khan’s work is impressive and is the result of twenty years of research that ranged over four hundred years of history. Utilizing Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, and English primary sources and supplemented by a wide array of secondary works, Iqtidar Khan has produced an excellent work. The four appendices are useful supplements dealing with the use of firearms by the Mongols, the analysis of terminology in a couple primary sources, and the origins of the Purbias, who were gunners for a few Indian states in the 1500s. The volume also contains almost thirty illustrations of firearms and their use. These dramatically illustrate Khan’s points as well as show the reader the variances between the weapons.

Yet, the book is not without faults. While Gunpowder and Firearms is an insightful and well-argued work, the author exaggerates the Mongols’ use of gunpowder. While it is true that the Mongols never met a weapon they did not find a use for, there is no concrete evidence that the Mongols used gunpowder weapons on a regular basis outside of China. Indeed, the author recognizes this and notes that his claims are based on Persian terms which could be interpreted as firearms. Unfortunately, while many of these terms such as manjaniq are used to refer to cannons, during the medieval period manjaniq meant a mangonel. It is plausible that in later periods, the Mongols did make more extensive use of gunpowder weapons, but in period of the conquests (1206-60), there is inadequate evidence to support Khan’s assertion.

One other minor criticism is the exclusion of Kenneth Chase’s Firearms: A Global History to 1700 (2003). I suspect that, given their publication dates, Chase’s and Khan’s books crossed paths. Although Chase takes a global perspective, the authors reach similar conclusions. Nonetheless, Gunpowder and Firearms will appeal not only to historians of India, but also anyone interested in the development of weapons and military systems or the creation of states. In summary, not only is Iqtidar Alam Khan’s work an impressive study on the diffusion of firearms in India, it will also serve as a model for others pursuing similar research on the spread of technology or goods on a regional basis.

History Of The Gun In India

Source: Allsands

This is a history the gun in India. It refers to the armors of the Indian Kings and of the British reign including those of the East India Company.

The legend that the ancient Hindus invented gunpowder can be traced back to the writings of Englishman Nathaniel Halhed in 1776 and a Scotsman Quintin Craufurd in 1790, both of who served in India and became fascinated by the history and religions of this country. Gustav Oppert, a professor of Sanskrit Language at Chennai (previously known as Madras), who translated two ‘ancient Sanskrit manuscripts’, in 1880 to prove to his own satisfaction that “gunpowder and firearms were known in India in the most ancient times.” As many of the statements in his book are palpably absurd like the size of the ‘Aksauhini’ army corps is given as 2,187,000,000 men, and no proper attempts have been made to date his sources. So, Oppert’s theory cannot be accepted. Manuscripts or printed books, which purport to be copies of earlier works, have been particularly tempting to Chinese historians.

In India, King Babar wreaked havoc on the battlefield by using the Muskets in the war for the first time. The most common Muskets found in India are Flintlocks, Brown Bess Muskets and the Percussion Cap. In India, the few flintlocks made by the native gun makers were also close copies of the European type. One often finds a typical Indian stock and barrel equipped with a good quality London-made lock. In the island of Sri Lanka, however, a most unusual fitted to the left-hand side of the stock. The unique scroll-shaped Ceylon form of butt carries the most profuse kind of ornament. The flintlock gun believed to have been made for the last great warrior King of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Raja Sinha, who died in 1687. Both the barrel and wooden stock are overlaid with sheet silver, parcel gilt and embossed with filigree work, and inlaid with rubies. The lock of this gun, however, probably of later date than of the stock, is either of European manufacture or a close copy of one. In East of India the flintlock is rarely found. These at first sight appear to be a three-barreled matchlock revolver. But the jaws of the cock have been turned horizontally to take a flint, and the priming pans, although fitted with the usual side-swinging double pan-cover, are also equipped with pivoted steels with ribbed faces. Joseph Belton, one of the developer of the muskets, pistols and carbines didn’t succeeded in interesting British Ordnance, but some muskets, pistols and carbines made by him were purchased by East India Company.

A gadget not found on European guns is the small pricker for cleaning the touchhole, which is chained to a container, fastened to the stock just below the pan. The Indian methods of making gun barrels are recounted in full by the Lord Egerton of Tatton in his work ‘A Description of Indian and Oriental Armour’. A part from his interesting description of the damascening and graining of the surface of the metal, he reveals that some of the longer barrels consist of four pieces of cylindrical iron joined together.

The shape of the stock of the Indian matchlock gun, or ‘toradar’, as it was called, varies according to the geographical location of its manufacture. In the North and particularly in the state of Sind, the butt has a very pronounced curve and opens out into a large fishtail shape. This is known as the Afghan stock, as it is modeled after the guns of the neighboring hill tribes of Afghanistan. But where as the Afghan gun is usually of crude manufacture the Indian model is often distinguished by a heavy damascened barrel with a muzzle fashioned as a monster’s head and a stock ornamented enameled plaques rivaling the best productions of Persia.

In the central regions the curve of the Butt is less pronounced, but a distinct notch is cut in the top of the Butt just behind the breach. The true Indian stock favored by the Rajputs and the Marathas has a very slim, straight stock of pentagonal section capable of supporting only a light barrel. Iron, brass or silver plates nailed to each side of the lock housing strengthen it. Although its design is severe in line, the decoration can be magnificent. Even on the plainest of guns, the metal sidepieces are of watered steel with restrained chiseling. If silver or brass is used the engraving and embossing can be profuse. The craftsmen used their fine arts to decorate them.

From the beginning, the European settlers and merchants had coveted the luxurious pelts the Indian collected in his native habitat. Among other things, the Indian, in his turn, coveted European firearms and, the laws of economics begin what they are; the two soon began to change hands. And active trade in guns had developed during the seventeenth century, but it was not until the early 1700’s that a special trade gun was devised for barter.

The Indian knew what he wanted in a gun and the trading companies strove to produce it a price that would permit a pleasingly exorbitant profit. Long, heavy guns were completely unacceptable to the aborigines. There were unimportant details the Indians insisted upon because they were used to them: a serpent-shaped side plate opposite the lock, a deep-trigger guard, and even British proof marks. Straight guns made in America or in Belgium frequently had to bear imitations of these marks before the Indians would accept them.

For almost two hundred years it was the preferred gun of the Indian, and it was made for that whole period without significant alteration. The flintlock suited the Indian perfectly and he preferred on even better arms, which used percussion caps or metallic cartridges. He could make his own flint if he wanted to. A flintlock could be loaded more easily. But with a large touchhole, slapping the butt and jarring some of the charge out of the barrel and into the pan could prime a flintlock. It was customary to hunt buffalo, sheep, and deer in most part of India, for instance, by riding alongside the great beasts and firing at close range, loading rapidly and firing again.

The trade guns were cheap, but they were sturdy. They had to withstand the treatment they received. An Indian seldom cleaned his gun or oiled it as a European would. If the stock broke, he wrapped it with rawhide. Usually he removed the butt plate and made a hide scrapper out of it. Frequently he cut the barrel down to carbine length and made a tent peg or another scrapper from the cut-off portion. He studded the stock with brass-headed tacks, decked it with rawhide, copper wire and scalps. Still, many of these sturdy flintlocks gave dependable service for years.

Brown Bess was the affectionate nickname given to this musket by the British soldier. No one knows how the name originated. Some have tried to link it with Queen Elizabeth, but there were more than a hundred years between the death of the one and birth of the other, so that such an association would have been remote indeed. More likely, the ‘Bess’ was simply a pet name such as men have often applied to gun and the ‘Brown’ stemmed from artificial browning of the barrel and the colour of the walnut stock, which was no longer painted black as it frequently had been in the past.


Source: Orissa govt
R. K. Mishra
The story of weapons is intimately connected with the story of mankind. Born armed but not weaponed man is obliged to arm himself with weapons both for the purpose of offence and defence. The arming of man all over the world began in the remote past when the primitive man fashioned crude weapons from pebbles and stones not only to protect himself from the ferocious beasts but also to augment his food supply by hunting. With the passage of time he brought about sophistication in them and used these weapons for all his domestic and external needs. With the gradual development and discovery of mater like copper and bronze (C.2500 B.C. in India), he hammered or cast his metalic weapons which he used to greater effect when iron came to be known in India around 1000 B.C. it brought about a revolution in the art of weaponry. Several kingdoms were razed to the ground and vast empire built on their ruins with the power
of the weapons.

This study of Arms and Weapons absorbs interest to a large and ever increasing number of people inasmuch as it appeals in a marked degree to a student of history, the antiquarian and to those who worked in the art of military science.

Weapons form the basis for a certain aspect of history and pre-requisite for changing the face of the world through various wars. This study constitutes a subject in writing the history of a nation.

Orissa State Museum has acquired a good number of traditional weapons of war like swords, guns, cannons, daggers, spears, bows, battle axes, shields, etc. These weapons are under display in a separate Armoury Gallery.

Representing several varieties, the Museum has choicest species of swords and talwars which are generally carved towards the end and has cutting edge. The Khadga variety of swords normally straight with blunt end and having double cutting edges. It is usually very heavy. Patta forms another type with a long handle and can pierce through the body of the enemy. There are two inscribed swords collected from Narasinghpur and Baramba Palace which deserves special mention. The first one belongs to Muslim Period having curved with hilt, oval grip and straight quillion. The back edge bears a persian inscription having an inscribed name of ‘Saha Alam Badshah’.

The second one belongs to Gajapati Period. The hilt has a brass grip with gold coated inscription beginning with “Om Ganesayah Namah” in proto Oriya character and presumably a verse from Vishnu Sahasranama. The use of jewels like gold coating in arms is peculiar in India. These are studded to enhance the beauty, elegancy and richness of the swords. The hilts of the swords are fashioned with costly metal with engraving of floral devises and animal figures. The blades have decorated designs and inscribed letters. The greatest amount of ornamentation is lavished upon armours and personal weapons of kings and emperors. Some metalic weapons are engraved, enamelled, perforated and embelished in many forms. Some of the hilts are made of ivory, steel , horn, fish teeth, etc.

The gallery is enriched with display of varieties of matchlocks, flint guns, muzzle load and rifles. The Marahattas used matchlocks, pistols and rifles. These guns are generally large and heavy. The long barrel of the matchlock is usually attached with the stock by leather stripe and strengthened with side plates of steels. These are traditional types used by the soldiers of the royal armies during these days. Gun powder is generally pressed inside their long barrels and then fired. The prize collection in the gallery is the personal gun of Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das, the maker of Modern Orissa. There are about 30 numbers of small and big cannons displayed in the gallery.

These fire arms are generally of Mughal and Marahatta Period. It may be mentioned here that the development of fire arms made Mughals very effective. Guns and cannons mounted each on a wheel carriage were later introduced from Europe and convenient devices were added in the Mughal Army by Akbar. Eight big cannons were recovered from Barabati Fort area of Cuttack district and brought to the Museum. Two big cannons were brought from Lalbag Palace, Cuttack at the instance of Shri A. N. Khosla the then Governor of Orissa during 1969. Lalbag originally a seat of Mughal Governors was subsequently converted to Governor House of Orissa.

Ten number of daggers have been displayed in the gallery. Some of the daggers are assorted variety with hilts of ivory bones, agate and metal. Some daggers are curved and straight. Jamdhar, a popular variety of daggers have a beautiful handle and broad straight blade. The blade is thick with two cutting edges having a breadth of three inches at the hilt. The handle bars are very often enamelled and display decorative designs. Spears and javelines are coveted weapons for riders and cavaliers and fixed to the saddle through iron chains. Ballam which were another popular variety consisted of several varieties. They are constituted of metal and are very slender and could easily be thrown. The blade is round in two sides, three sides and even more. The blade is in the shape of vertical narrow leaf. The blade of those weapons are attached to long bamboo and hurled on the foe when they are used for attack. The State Museum preserves a good number of these weapons datable to Mughal and Marahatta Period. Some of them have been provided with a leather strap to facilitate their hanging from shoulder of the armed personnel. The shafts of many of these weapons are decorated with gold and silver workmanship.

Among the defensive weapons in the collection there are circular shields of different varieties made of hide and metals to protect the body from close range when attacked by the enemy.The shields are made of the skin of Rhinoceros, buffalo, tortoise, tigers and are elaborately decorated and damascened with gold, cresents and murals. At subsequent periods metal seems to have been used in the fabrication of shields with both iron and copper. The shape of the shields are ordinarily circular. The diametre ranges from 18th to 20 inches. At time they are fitted with four or six steel brussed on thin surface.

The gallery is enriched with good collection of battle axes. Axes are dreadful weapons which could create havoc when used in the war but in later period they were outdated. The battle axe consisted of a short wooden shaft with a shouldered blade attached to it on the side near the top. The battle axes were very much prevelent among soldiers of Mughal and Marahatta army.

A large number of old weapons have still been stored in the old palaces, private collections, local zamindars and feudatory chiefs and ex-State rulers which can be collected and preserved in the armoury gallery in a thematic order.

References :
1. Military History of India–J. N. Sircar
2. Studies in Indian Warfare and Weapons–G. N. Pant
3. National Museum Bulletin–No. IV, V and VI.
4. Glimpses of Orissan Art & Culture (Golden Jubilee Issue)–O.H.R.J. Vol. XXX No. 2, 3 & 4.
5. Military History of Orissa–Dr. R. P. Mohapatra.
6. Indian Arms and Armour–Vol. I & II–G. N. Pant.
7. Military History of India–B. C. Kar.
Orissa State Museum