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Old 8th May 2024, 04:47 PM   #1
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Here is a set of photos of a musket offered by Queen Dona Maria 1st of Portugal to the Sultan of Gujarat, in 1795, in gratitude for his help in the Maratha Wars (which, for three times, invaded us in the North of our territories), in Hindustan. The Sultan risked a lot by ostensibly placing himself and his army on our side! During the absence of the Portuguese Royal House, retired in Brazil, the Governance of Portugal fell to Marshal Beresford. The latter, coming from English India and the government of Madeira Island, saw fit to send Anglo-Indian forces to occupy Goa, Daman and Diu. He transformed these Portuguese territories into export ports for opium, cultivated in the lands of northern English India. Then there was the strange “phantom war”, which should not be talked about. Apart from some meager protests from the inhabitants of these Portuguese territories from local residents, no one showed a willingness to put an end to this situation, which was getting worse and, clearly, we were going to lose these territories unless someone intervened with force. It was the Sultan of Gujarat who sent his forces to Goa, Daman and Diu. With this cover, the locals took up arms to defend their lands against the Anglo-Indian armies. The British gave in and there was no further talk of the matter. The EAST INDIA COMPANY began to use ports on the Coromandel Coast to export opium to China, which caused several Opium Wars between the British and China. The consequences of these wars still shake the world today.
It is difficult to define what weight the offer of this royal musket had on these issues, but it cannot have been small! Observing this weapon, we noticed something unprecedented: there is a small door in the butt plate to store something. The door opens using a hidden mechanism. Once opened, it shows a second door, which can only be opened with the respective key, which has been lost. The family that owned it (Casa Imperial Brasileira) never worried about it. It was necessary to make a custom-made screwdriver to dismantle the cover plate and a hiding place was discovered for a miniature book, with the edge of each leaf in gold!
The musket was intended for the Sultan of Gujarat, a Muslim. These received, when they came of age, a phrase chosen from the Al-Koran, offered by their religious leader. This phrase was written on gold, silver or tin foil, rolled up and closed once and for all, inside a tube, which the recipient had to wear on a necklace around his neck throughout his life. It was forbidden to tell anyone what the phrase in the sacred book dedicated to him had been. As the Queen of Portugal logically did not know what the phrase intended for this monarch was, it was decided to have a complete Al-Koran book made in miniature!
Attached is a group of the first photos of this rifle, where you can see in detail the two ports and the “stripped” stock with the butt plate unscrewed. In the middle of the hollow of the stock (made of partridge root, one of the most difficult woods to discover), you can see the small book.
The musket is the work of the MASTER OF THE ROYAL ARSENAL OF THE ARMY OF LISBON, JACINTO XAVIER and dated “LISBOA 1795”. The trigger guard shows the Royal Portuguese Arms. On the pan cover is the indication “JACINTO XAVIER”. In platinum too. The lock is one of the best ever made. The main spring, entirely removed from a steel block, has a large wheel that sits on a small roller in the dog's heel. The friar sits on the knee of the dog's foot. The caixeta grabs the dog's toenail. Everything in maximum perfection and inlaid with gold!
The barrel is a spectacle in itself. Everything in impeccable condition. It originates from the TOP-KAPI OTTOMAN palace, in Constantinople. Engraved, chiseled and inlaid with red corals and semi-precious stones. In the midst of all this it has the hallmark of the workshop master who created it. This has the abbreviation of its name, in Turkish, headed by the Celtic Knot. Precisely the same Celtic knot that appears in the designs of the armor used by Dom Sebastião 1º of Portugal in the battle of Alcácer-Quibir (1578). This knot does not usually appear on Ottoman weapons but on Portuguese, Italian, German and Austrian ones. As we had great masters from these origins working in our arsenals, it is highly likely that the Ottoman sovereigns also had them. It was military custom, in war, to arrest riflemen and swordsmiths to force them to work.

In case the quality of the pictures doesn't allow for a good viewing of the mini Koran, i had the privilege to see it life.

(Translated) Text courtesy Professor Rainer Daehnhardt and weapon from his collection.

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Old 8th May 2024, 10:54 PM   #2
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Thank-you Fernando: a magnificent piece of work and a fascinating story.
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Old 14th May 2024, 06:56 PM   #3
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Fernando, I finally have had a chance to read this incredibly detailed story, which is as breathtaking as this amazing weapon itself. As a lifelong antiquarian, that is someone who studies history through artifacts and objects themselves, this gun is amazing. While of course an inanimate item, its iconic presence vibrantly brings this history to life.

It is amazing to see the situation unfolding in these Portuguese territories in this period, and the dire threat posed by the EIC forces and these formidable drug commodities (which become weaponized substances which are used to weaken the integrity of targeted nations and states, even familiar today).

To see the remarkable thoughtfulness in creating this weapon combining the artisanship of the esteemed Portuguese crafting, and the reverent addition of Muslim elements wonderfully represent the harmony of these national entities in working against the destructive circumstances posed is outstanding.

A truly outstanding weapon that resoundingly represents the kind of mutual cooperation regardless of religious disparity that would truly bring the world into a better place.

Thank you Fernando for sharing this VERY important piece! and sincere thanks to Professor Daehnhardt, with his always fascinating scholarship on some of history's rarest weapons.

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Old 15th May 2024, 02:15 PM   #4
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Thnk you so much for the kind words Jim, as i was sure you enjoy these historic subjects.
A couple more are ready to post, but currenty i am physically unwell and find it rather difficult to handle the keyboard.
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Old 17th May 2024, 08:28 PM   #5
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Get well soon, Fernando!

Thanks a lot for posting this piece! Assuming that it got gifted to the intended recipient, how did it find its way back to Portugal?

BTW, there seem to be several tree species whose timbers are referred to as partridge wood. This doesn't seem to be from the most common species (Andira inermis); root/burl wood often has a distinct look though.

Looking forward to other special pieces that you may be able to post. Take your time to get fit though!

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Old 17th May 2024, 09:08 PM   #6
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Thank you Fernando for sharing and get well soon!
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