Qing Percussion Hunting Gun

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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Scott M. Rodell
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Qing Percussion Hunting Gun

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:38 am

Qing Percussion Hunting Gun
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An excellent, rare example of a Qing Percussion Lock Gun in Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. The piece is cat. no. PR.45.
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Qing Percussion Hunting Gun
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Qing Percussion Hunting Gun
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Philip Tom
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Re: Qing Percussion Hunting Gun

Post by Philip Tom » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:33 pm

Cat. no. PR.45, Pitt-Rivers Museum (Oxford)
DESCRIPTION: Barrel length 47 1/2 in., caliber 0.45 in. (per Blackmore, Guns and Rifles of the World (1965). Smoothbore octagonal barrel, lavishly damascened in silver. Lack of a rear sight indicates use as a fowling piece, firing a load of lead shot rather than a solid projectile. Percussion lock of Chinese manufacture, damascened in gold and silver. The varnished wooden stock with ivory inlays at the breech and muzzle areas, the capucines (barrel bands) of silver. Gilt ramrod.

REMARKS, AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: A sporting gun for a gentleman of wealth and distinction, possibly a prince or high ranking officer. The percussion mechanism, which fires the gun via the hammer striking a cap filled with fulminates of mercury, replaced the flintlock in the West beginning in the 1820s. This gun appears to be a conversion of an original matchlock version, with the replacement of the priming-pan on the barrel with a percussion nipple, and the substitution of the percussion lock. The work, and the lock itself, appears to be that of Chinese craftsmen. The mismatch in decoration between the lockplate and the barrel support the notion of this being a mechanical conversion, most likely done in the latter 19th cent., of a gun that may have originally been made decades, or perhaps a century earlier.

The gun was originally a niaoqiang , or bird [beak] gun, with a snapping matchlock of Portuguese type. The curved stock, designed to be rested against the cheek rather than the shoulder, is typical of the Luso-Indian style of gun introduced by the Portuguese to east Asia. It is worth noting that the traditional firearms of neighboring Japan, Korea, and Vietnam all have these short cheek-rested buttstocks. Qinggong Wubei (armaments and military provisions) in the Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum series of books shows a imperial example with original matchlock system (cat. no. 233) which is very similar to this one except for the lock.

Undecorated versions of these guns were also issued to some units of the military and there are some examples using imported European percussion locks.

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