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Photo of Qing Taiqiang

Posted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:35 pm
by Scott M. Rodell
A Qing rampart gun also used in the field...

Re: Photo of Qing Taiqiang

Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:34 am
by Philip Tom
This late 19th cent. photo shows a rampart gun, known by the generic term taiqiang or "big musket". They were designed to be rested on the parapet of a city wall, or if deployed in the field, on a tripod or the shoulder of the shooter's assistant. Due to their size, they were served by a crew of at least three men. The example shown is patterned after a Western-style military musket, scaled up to the requisite size. Although viewed from the left side, what appears to be the spur of a percussion-lock hammer is visible.

Originally, these guns were matchlocks (I am trying to locate a photo of an example in the West Point Academy museum). Percussion-lock versions were made in the second half of the 19th cent., and by the 1890s, breechloading versions chambering metallic cartridges containing cal. .60 or .70 bullets were made at South Tianjin Arsenal and other facilities.

Similar versions of the matchlock taiqiang were also widely used in India through the end of the 19th cent., and the rampart gun concept in various mechanical configurations was also a fixture of European and Middle Eastern warfare until the improved firepower and long-range accuracy of breechloading infantry rifles made it superfluous.

Qing Mactchlock Taiqiang

Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:54 am
by Philip Tom
An example from the West Point Academy museum.

Matchlock taiqiang in the West Point collection

Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:35 am
by Philip Tom
This is a classic example of a Qing wall-gun of the type in use prior to the introduction of Western technology (percussion locks, metallic cartridges, etc) in the late 19th cent.
Overall length approx 7 ft. 9 in. Barrel approx 5 ft. 10 in., caliber 0.96 in.
Round smoothbore barrel, twist-forged construction, gently flaring muzzle, fixed sights.
Stock of elm wood, brass barrel bands, iron mechanism.
This piece probably dates from the 18th through early 19th cent. The matchlock mechanism consists of a serpentine (match-holder, seen as a curving arm extending above the top) integral with the trigger which protrudes under the stock. An internal leaf-spring returns the serpentine to the "up" position when the trigger is released. This is the type of matchlock mechanism characteristic of Ottoman Turkey, Iran and Central Asia, Mughal India, and Tibet. During the Ming Dynasty, matchlocks of this type were termed lumiqiang (Roman muskets). In this case, "Roman" referred to Rum ( = Lu Mi), which is the location of modern Turkey and at that time had seen the area's transition from Byzantine to Seljuk and then Ottoman rule. A Ming text from ca. 1598, Shenqi pu (Treatise on Extraordinary Weapons) by Chao Shichen, contains passages which suggests that the Roman musket may have reached China via the author's grandfather's two shooting buddies who were expat Turks who had settled in China. Commentary by the late Dr. Joseph Needham indicates that this may have occurred circa 1530.

Another type of matchlock, the niaoqiang (bird musket) had a mechanism whose serpentine was cocked under spring tension, and which snapped forward like a pecking bird-beak after being released by the trigger. This system was introduced to Southeast Asia and China by the Portuguese early in the 16th cent., reaching Japan in 1543 and Korea sometime after that.