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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, 06:36 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
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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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