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Old 7th August 2019, 08:02 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Frontier Arithmetic: The Afghan Jezail

"....a scrimmage in a border station, a canter down some dark defile;
two thousand pounds of education, drops to a ten rupee jezail".
"Arithmetic on the Frontier"
Rudyard Kipling, 1886

I somehow came across this jezail, in Albuquerque of all places, and have always wanted one after all the years of reading about them here, so I got it.
While it clearly is in the 'tourist' category, and most probably came from the Kuch-e-Morgha (Chicken Street) in Kabul, I would like to think that perhaps it came there from the Khyber regions, and was genuinely fashioned for a Pathan tribesman some time ago.

After reviewing as many images as possible of EIC gun locks, I feel that this is quite possibly a genuine lock from probably a Windus pattern Brown Bess that was acquired in the First Anglo-Afghan war in 1839.
The use of the rampant lion on the lock seems to have begun around 1808, with the date on the tail of the lock.
Both these and the quartered heart with initials of EIC seem to have abound in these Afghan regions ever since, and while they were widely copied, this seems close enough to be authentic.

The gun itself highly embellished in style that was used often authentically by tribesmen, was also of course widely produced as souvenirs, often using authentic locks as refurbished from worn old guns.

The pics are of the one I acquired, said to be .58 cal. smoothbore.

The red backed lock image is of an known authentic example as comparison.
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Old 7th August 2019, 08:41 PM   #2
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Jim, the barrel on your new acquisition looks promising and could well be dating back to the 19th century. We will wait for you to receive the gun and take better pictures. I cannot comment on the rest.

Teodor
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Old 8th August 2019, 01:54 AM   #3
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Thank you Teodor, I have the gun, I found it in a shop here in Albuquerque. Here is another pic of the barrel. I never realized how long and heavy these things are.
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Old 8th August 2019, 03:50 AM   #4
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Default The "Khyber Rifles"

I have always had a deep interest in history, and much of it certainly prompted by literature and movies (as a youngster one was not especially aware of 'accuracy'). One movie which deeply intrigued me was "King of the Khyber Rifles" (1953) with Tyrone Power.
In later years, and more aware of accuracy and inspirations, I learned that the movie was inspired by a 1916 book by Talbot Mundy with the same title.

Further, I found that Mundy was inspired by a true story and actual unit in an autobiography of Sir Robert Warburton titled "Eighteen Years in the Khyber" (1900) and about his experiences there 1879-1898.

I learned later after much research and letters to many sources that the Khyber Rifles were a paramilitary unit begun in the 1880s as the "Khyber Jezalichis" with Afridi tribesmen. They were attached to British regiments in campaigns and soon went from their jezails to Snider Enfield, then Martini-Henry rifles.

These were my first exposures to these fascinating jezail rifles, and I find the history of them, from the notable tribal use described by Kipling; the accounts by Warburton; the book by Mundy and even the movie, colorful and exciting.

I know we have discussed these many times over the years, but I would really like to discuss them further here, and to see more of the examples you guys have out there.

One thing that I find very intriguing is the constant use and reuse of the British locks of the EIC. I think it would be interesting to put together an overview of these locks and the examples they appear in, with details on the probable time lines; for example, those with the quartered heart, the lion, and those with names and dates.
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Old 8th August 2019, 06:35 AM   #5
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Hi Jim,
These guns are so - too - many on the market and as you said most of them are decorative.
Then even in the original and functionnal ones, you have some of them made with good and old original pieces English and Persian, then the others locally made but functionnal.
I have some serious doubt about your lock... Of course Rick will tell you everything about your gun.
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Old 8th August 2019, 09:50 AM   #6
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Hi Jim,
Hope you have somewhere suitable to mount your Jezail in the "Bookmobile"!. Nice example by the way.....
Yes as Kubur says, Rick will no doubt be able to comment on the genuineness of the lock but if you can post a pic of the inside of the lock it will give a clearer idea of origin. Also does the touch hole line up with the bottom of the pan?
I have a similar Jezail which, though probably functional in terms of shooting, appears as if it could be, though not definitely, made for tourists, as it is also (like yours), prolificly decorated with MOP.
Pics of a couple of my Jezails.
Not to digress from the Jezail, there is another gun of similar shape which is also attributed to Afghanistan, though it's origins are more Sindhi/Baluchistan. It must be remembered that when we today discuss Afghani guns, that the borders have been many times redrawn since colonial days, and what was once part of Afghanistan is now part of Pakistan.
A couple of pics of these guns attached also.
Stu
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Old 8th August 2019, 11:07 AM   #7
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Jim,
Whether or not your lock is original EIC is difficult to say from the photo's. The main components look as if they could be; but if so it has definitely suffered some local tinkering in that all the screws would appear to be replacements.
Regards
Richard
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Old 8th August 2019, 06:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Hi Jim,
These guns are so - too - many on the market and as you said most of them are decorative.
Then even in the original and functionnal ones, you have some of them made with good and old original pieces English and Persian, then the others locally made but functionnal.
I have some serious doubt about your lock... Of course Rick will tell you everything about your gun.

Thank you Kubur, Stu and Richard! I really appreciate this input as I know you guys are well seasoned in the collecting and study of these.

I have had doubts about the lock as well, but in comparing it to some of the examples known authentic it is remarkably well done if indeed a copy. As far as I have known the Afghan copies have never been that faithfully copied, only rendered interpretations. All of the screw positions etc. seem to line up, and the 'work' in adding this lock appears to use similar technique and even hardware to other Afghan components. While the profiled outlining on the perimeters of the lock seem slightly crude in joins, it seems most Afghan examples dont even bother with this detail.
These are just my estimations based on research to get up to speed as I cannot claim any great experience or knowledge on these.

Thank you for the historic and geographic insights as well Stu, and important to note how in flux these boundaries have been.

Stu,thank you for the great examples you posted! Those are beauties, and these guns are incredibly attractive. I take it the Sind examples have a long slender neck (or wrist?) on the stock.

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 8th August 2019 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 9th August 2019, 04:32 PM   #9
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Hi Jim, Another great subject very nicely placed so people can add their take on the subject.. Looking purely at the weapons I made a few observations noting a number of different locks from far and wide. This gun seems to have a few different names including camel gun and the Jezail or Jezzail seems dominant ...although there also seem to be different types some with the very hooked butt and others more straight... I have a few pictures here ~
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Old 9th August 2019, 04:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jim,
Hope you have somewhere suitable to mount your Jezail in the "Bookmobile"!. Nice example by the way.....
Yes as Kubur says, Rick will no doubt be able to comment on the genuineness of the lock but if you can post a pic of the inside of the lock it will give a clearer idea of origin. Also does the touch hole line up with the bottom of the pan?
I have a similar Jezail which, though probably functional in terms of shooting, appears as if it could be, though not definitely, made for tourists, as it is also (like yours), prolificly decorated with MOP.
Pics of a couple of my Jezails.
Not to digress from the Jezail, there is another gun of similar shape which is also attributed to Afghanistan, though it's origins are more Sindhi/Baluchistan. It must be remembered that when we today discuss Afghani guns, that the borders have been many times redrawn since colonial days, and what was once part of Afghanistan is now part of Pakistan.
A couple of pics of these guns attached also.
Stu



That picture of the tribals with guns has at its centre Khuda Dad Khan of Kalat arguably the most murderous butcher that ever stalked the earth...
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Old 9th August 2019, 04:53 PM   #11
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Ibrahiim I'm so glad you came in on this!! and great photo images, thank you.
As one of few people I know who have actually been in Kabul and seen 'Chicken Street', I value your insights here.

As you note, these jezails (et al) I have hoped to focus here with the diverse experience and knowledge over many years here, and put together as much comprehensive material as possible to better identify them.

I am trying to gather as much as I can on the locks, which seem to be one of the key components in these, and determine the variations of EIC markings and names etc. From these, it would be good to compare spuriously produced Afghan examples.

Thank you for the input!!!
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Old 9th August 2019, 05:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
That picture of the tribals with guns has at its centre Khuda Dad Khan of Kalat arguably the most murderous butcher that ever stalked the earth...


Warriors for sure

but
most murderous butcher that ever stalked the earth...

Is true or was it a British colonialist propaganda???

like the stories about the fuzzy fuzzy in Sudan or the Zulu in South Africa

more your ennemies look dangerous more your victories look greater...

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Old 9th August 2019, 06:55 PM   #13
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Warriors for sure

but
most murderous butcher that ever stalked the earth...

Is true or was it a British colonialist propaganda???

like the stories about the fuzzy fuzzy in Sudan or the Zulu in South Africa

more your ennemies look dangerous more your victories look greater...



Please see http://www.travelbooksonline.com/as...page1_1000.html

Well arguably... In a brilliant travelog I read he appears from about page 54 where he is described as Quote" His Highness Mir Khudadad, Khan of Kelat, is about sixty years old. He would be tall were it not for a decided stoop, which, together with a toothless lower jaw, gives him the appearance of being considerably more than his age. His complexion is very dark, even for a Baluch, and he wears a rusty black beard and moustaches, presumably dyed, from the streaks of red and white that run through them, and long, coarse pepper-and-salt locks streaming far below his shoulders. His personal appearance gave me anything but a favourable impression. The Khan has a scowling expression, keen, piercing black eyes, and a sharp hooked nose that reminded one forcibly of Cruikshank's picture of Fagin the Jew in "Oliver Twist." Unquote.

His story goes...ASLAMO ALAIKOOM. I'M MIR KHUDADAD KHAN. I'M THE KHAN OF KALAT. I WAS THE LAST KHAN TO HAVE ANY REAL AUTHORITY. I ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, IN 1857, WHEN I WAS A MERE BOY OF 10 ( CORRECTION: was 17). THOSE WERE TROUBLED TIMES, WITH MOST OF MY SARDARS OPENLY FLAUNTING MY AUTHORITY; AND THE BRITISH HOVERING IN AND AROUND MY LANDS. THEY WERE QUICK, TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS SITUATION. ON ONE HAND WAS THE FULL MIGHT OF THE BRITISH ARMS AND ON THE OTHER, THE STRANGE INTRANSIGENCE OF MY OWN SARDARS. THERE WAS NO OTHER OPTION FOR ME, BUT TO AGREE TO A HUMILIATING AGREEMENT, WITH THE BRITISH, IN 1876. AN AGREEMENT I HATED, FROM THE CORE OF MY HEART. BY IT, THE BRITISH GAINED GREATER INFLUENCE IN LARGE PARTS OF MY KHANATE. I ONLY AGREED, BECAUSE NOT DOING SO MEANT THE END OF MY KHANATE, AS IT WAS. AND IT'S DISINTEGRATION INTO PETTY FIEFDOMS. I AGREED, SO THAT, WHEN SITUATION WAS MORE FAVORABLE , TO REVOKE IT. IN 1877, I EVEN ATTENDED THE "IMPERIAL ASSEMBLAGE" DARBAR AT DELHI, WERE QUEEN VICTORIA, WAS PROCLAIMED THE EMPRESS OF INDIA. I HATED THE INCREASING INFLUENCE OF THE BRITISH IN MY LANDS. THEY HATED MY INDEPENDENT NATURE. A TIME CAME IN 1893, WHEN, ON ALLEGATIONS OF KILLING MY OWN PRIME MINISTER AND OF WANTON CRUELTY, I WAS DEPOSED AND IN MY PLACE, MY YOUNGER BROTHER MIR MAHMOOD KHAN, WAS MADE THE NEW KHAN. I REIGNED FOR ABOUT 36 YEARS. I WAS CONFINED AT PISHIN TILL MY DEATH 21st May 1907. There are a couple of slide shows on Utube from which I took the passage above ...Indicating the somewhat lack of trust he reflected arguably indicating the general view that he could be a bit violent

Returning to the weapons situation please see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=Baluch where guns and swords are displayed variously.

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Old 9th August 2019, 07:09 PM   #15
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The Sudanese Hadendoa were referred to in racist insults as 'Fuzzy-Wuzzys'.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:53 PM   #16
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The Jezail.


To fully return to the weapon Please See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-aEWZrTibE

An excellent couple of points are brought out on calibres of these weapons and wear proving the age of originals opposed to newly made examples often seen in souks in Afghanistan today.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
The Sudanese Hadendoa were referred to in racist insults as 'Fuzzy-Wuzzys'.


Not so much an insult, more a semi- affectionate description. If you want to see insults, look up what 19th C squaddies called their officers.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:47 PM   #18
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Interesting notes on some of the figures in these regions in Afghanistan of the period, and it is understandable that emotions and perspectives run deep, especially as warfare and combative situations leave deep scars. I have not been nor served in Afghanistan, but I have a son in law; son and grandson who have, and I know Ibrahiim has.

With that I was even a bit apprehensive in sharing the gun I acquired with them, but keeping objective and toward the unique nature and character of the weapon itself has been the primary outcome, so hoping to maintain that.

Can anyone share more on the locks on these with closeups and insights on them so as to put together a bit of identification compendium?
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Can anyone share more on the locks on these with closeups and insights on them so as to put together a bit of identification compendium?


Of course, first i think your lock is an Afghan copy decorative or not i don't know.
Second i think Elgood mentionned somewhere that British had a factory in Persia and then many locks are English made in Iran...
It would explain the quantities found in Afganistan.
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Old 9th August 2019, 10:31 PM   #20
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Thank you Kubur! and I am inclined to agree, my example does appear to be an Afghan copy, it is not nearly as well executed as the example in the photo (with red background) which is deemed an authentic British lock.
I very much appreciate you sharing this page from Elgood, which I do not have with me presently.
Interesting that the British had manufacturing involvement in Iran, just as they did in Afghanistan with the Machin Khana in Kabul. At the Kabul factory though they did not produce spuriously marked locks etc and the factory had their own use of the Afghan royal stamp.

The spuriously marked locks seem to have come from the independent tribal artisans in Khyber locations such as Darra Khel and others.
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Old 9th August 2019, 10:39 PM   #21
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Interesting rifle Jim! These Jezails are quite exotic and were produced all over I think. And many parts were likely replaced during their lifetime.

I found this article useful when researching my jezail: http://www.armscollectors.com/darra/afghanold.htm
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Old 10th August 2019, 06:41 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
That picture of the tribals with guns has at its centre Khuda Dad Khan of Kalat arguably the most murderous butcher that ever stalked the earth...

The caption to that pic describes the tribesmen as Balochs and dated as 1879.
Another print/woodcut herewith, presumably earlier as the guns appear to be matchlocks.
Stu
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Old 10th August 2019, 09:14 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Of course, first i think your lock is an Afghan copy decorative or not i don't know.
Second i think Elgood mentionned somewhere that British had a factory in Persia and then many locks are English made in Iran...
It would explain the quantities found in Afganistan.

Here is the full section relating to EIC guns made in Tabriz.(From Firearms of the Islamic World in the Tareq Museum Kuwait by Elgood).
I seem to remember reading somewhere that Tabriz was not the only place in Persia where these guns were made, but can not remember where I read it.
Also an Afghan pistol which is locally made. I do not wish to detract or confuse the current theme of this thread, so it is only posted for interest only and not for comment.
Stu
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Old 10th August 2019, 09:27 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Interesting notes on some of the figures in these regions in Afghanistan of the period, and it is understandable that emotions and perspectives run deep, especially as warfare and combative situations leave deep scars. I have not been nor served in Afghanistan, but I have a son in law; son and grandson who have, and I know Ibrahiim has.

With that I was even a bit apprehensive in sharing the gun I acquired with them, but keeping objective and toward the unique nature and character of the weapon itself has been the primary outcome, so hoping to maintain that.

Can anyone share more on the locks on these with closeups and insights on them so as to put together a bit of identification compendium?

Hi Jim,
Here are pics of the lock of the second jezail shown in my pics. This gun has no trigger guard (as made) and the lock bears the heart shaped bale mark of the EIC, but not the rampant lion. I would class this lock as "genuine" as the lock parts are fixed with screws rather than peened. When I get a moment I will post pics of the other locks.
Stu
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Old 10th August 2019, 10:23 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Not to digress from the Jezail, there is another gun of similar shape which is also attributed to Afghanistan, though it's origins are more Sindhi/Baluchistan.
Stu


I think you did, it's what i call a digression...
BTW amazing collection!

The so-called sindhi muskets are in fact Balutchi
I would like to see a sindhi with a sindhi gun...

To come back to Jim's musket
They are Pashtun, from the North Khyber pass...
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Old 10th August 2019, 10:31 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Interesting rifle Jim! These Jezails are quite exotic and were produced all over I think. And many parts were likely replaced during their lifetime.

I found this article useful when researching my jezail: http://www.armscollectors.com/darra/afghanold.htm



Thank you so much for the kind note !!!
These truly are exotic and attractive, and it does seem they were often reworked and had very long working lives. I honestly wish I could display it, but the bookmobile has little space for such mounting.

The link you have added is an absolutely fascinating and wonderful article which goes exactly in the direction I have hoped to lead this thread.....perfect addition
I have made many notes over the years on East India Co. gunlocks, mostly from research on the bale marks of the Company, and had some interesting communication with David Harding back when he was completing his volumes "Small Arms of the East India Company 1600-1856" (1999).
I sure wish I would have gotten a copy then (three volumes at first, another later).

It seems there have been other articles which show how to recognize Afghan copies from originals, but still searching.
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Old 10th August 2019, 10:46 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jim,
Here are pics of the lock of the second jezail shown in my pics. This gun has no trigger guard (as made) and the lock bears the heart shaped bale mark of the EIC, but not the rampant lion.
When I get a moment I will post pics of the other locks.
Stu



Excellent Stu!!! That is exactly what I am trying to gather here, close ups and detail on these locks.
It seems the rampant lion came in around 1808 with the EIC but as always exact dates are unclear.

The EIC heart seen in your example here has rather than the quartered heart, what is known as the 'flaunched' heart, which has curved lines rather than quarters.
I had always thought that the VEIC stood for Venerable East India Co.
but I learned from David Harding that it was actually United East India Company (or to that effect as the 'U' was seen as a 'V' in those days).

It is amazing to me, and pretty exciting, that the Afghans so thoroughly copied these British markings from the many Brown Bess they obtained during the long years of campaigns in these rugged and vast regions.

Thanks very much for the great examples you are adding here.
Also again for the notes on the Sindhi (Baluch) versions of these guns.

It is my impression that it is hard to accurately define these as from Sind or Baluchistan as not only are these areas unclearly defined geographically, but the tribal diffusions are complicated. Simply more that makes the study of the arms of these regions so fascinating.
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Old 10th August 2019, 02:24 PM   #28
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Just to add to the map equation where Baluchistan is shown as one entity which would be somewhat dissolved in the aftermath of the forming of Pakistan and where the western border of Baluchistan then straddled the Persian border so now it is quarter in Persia and three quarters in Pakistan.. Politics to one side; here is the map.

Note.Baluchi tribesman shown (although pictured out of area by the artist simply using a bit of blank map to illustrate them) doing what all tribals in the region did with their Jezails using high positions for defence and plunging fire at long range..
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Old 10th August 2019, 09:00 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
I think you did, it's what i call a digression...
BTW amazing collection!

The so-called sindhi muskets are in fact Balutchi
I would like to see a sindhi with a sindhi gun...

To come back to Jim's musket
They are Pashtun, from the North Khyber pass...

Hi Kubur,
As stated in my earlier post to Jim's thread, the boundries have been much redrawn in later times. If you refer to the old map kindly posted by Ibrahiim, you will see that Baluchistan covered a significant area of what is now southern and eastern Afghanistan, and modern day Pakistan.....so,.... the so called Sindhi gun, whether Baloch or Sindi, can be legitimately included as an Afghan weapon. The tribal link (Pashtun) which you allude to is just that....tribal, which according to the more modern map which you have posted, covers many regions of Afghanistan and not just the Khyber Pass region.
Stu

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Old 11th August 2019, 10:43 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you so much for the kind note !!!
These truly are exotic and attractive, and it does seem they were often reworked and had very long working lives. I honestly wish I could display it, but the bookmobile has little space for such mounting.

The link you have added is an absolutely fascinating and wonderful article which goes exactly in the direction I have hoped to lead this thread.....perfect addition
I have made many notes over the years on East India Co. gunlocks, mostly from research on the bale marks of the Company, and had some interesting communication with David Harding back when he was completing his volumes "Small Arms of the East India Company 1600-1856" (1999).
I sure wish I would have gotten a copy then (three volumes at first, another later).

It seems there have been other articles which show how to recognize Afghan copies from originals, but still searching.


Glad you liked the article Jim. The last rifle I thought looked rather similar to yours. The EIC flintlocks have a charm of their own I must admit.

Here is another photo of some Afghan tribesmen.
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