I have to apologize but I could not find but one single better photo of the Morkö (or Mörkö) gun.
The gun was excavated from the Baltic Sea near Nynäs, on the coast of Södermansland, by a fishing boat before 1828. After being in a couple of private collections, it finally found its home in the Swedish Royal Collections. It measures 19.3 cm overall, with a steady caliber of 21 mm smoothbore, weight 945 g, of hexagonal shape, which is characteristic of guns around or shortly after 1400, and the rear socket for the tiller stock is 6.9 cm long. As the first hooks on barrels do not seem to have appeared before ca. 1430, this feature gives a good reason for attributing this small gun (German Faustrohr
) to about that date.
Depicting a bearded face in high relief is quite usual for artisans of the High Gothic period around 1400 and is also found e.g. on contemporary stoneware (see attachment of an earthen jug decorated with three bearded faces, ca. 1420, preserved in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Frankfurt/Main). It certainly has nothing to do with the portrait of Jesus Christ but simply reflects the taste of fashion of that period and, of course, has an apotropaic (warding off disaster) function in those superstitious times as well.
This head of course blocks the sight when the gun is aimed but on the other hand acts as a fire guard.
The Gothic minuscule script mentions the word maria
several times; the rest is, as I said, illegible and mere decoration. This religious invocation of Holy Mary is sometimes found on helmets and swords.
There is only one other contemporary and stylistically comparable small bronze Faustrohr
known to exist, namely in a German private collection (not mine
). Its barrel is four-staged (the conical socket which has two opposite nail holes for fixing the wooden tiller neglected): a hexagonal breech section with a raised mascaron as touchhole, a hexagonal middle section, a short forward section with offset sides and a reinforced muzzle head in the shape of three bearded faces (please cf. the above-said).
This piece was dug up from the sludge of a pool near Schwedt by the Oder River before 1920.
The supposed date of ca. 1430 is backed up further by the small touchhole with its slightly deepened, rudimentary pan molding. While the Mörkö gun, as well as the double barrel sample, has a small trough with a raised brim around the touchhole, the latter here is formed as the mouth of a distorted human face.
The measurents are:
overall length: 18.3 cm
barrel length: 13.0 cm
caliber inside: 10 mm
caliber at muzzle: 12 mm smoothbore
diameter of the touchhole: 4 mm (at the vent), widening to 6 mm inside
weight: 720 g
The attachments from top to bottom:
the Mörkö gun
the gun with three bearded heads:
- overall view, top
- overall view, slanted
- two sectional drawings
- held in hand
- muzzle section
- the three bearded heads at the muzzle section
- a contemporary earthen jug with three heads
- a distorted face, its open mouth forming the touchhole
- the rear end of the tiller socket
- the muzzle