Matchlock Gun, Metropolitan Museum of Art: Arms and Armor

Bequest of George C. Stone, 1935
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Medium: Steel, wood, gold, silver, pigment

This sporting gun is distinctive for its delicately painted stock
covered with hunting scenes, birds and other animals, and landscapes.
The gold-damascened barrel is a masterpiece of forging, having both a
square cross section and a square bore. It is signed by the smith Haji
Sha’ban, who signed two other barrels on guns captured by the British at
Lahore, in northwest India (now Pakistan), in the nineteenth century.



Qing era Chinese matchlock musket

Made for the Qianlong emperor by the manufacture department of his imperial household c.mid-18th century.
Snap matchlock mechanism, cast iron barrel inlaid with gold, silver and copper, elm stock, sandalwood folding bipod with gold-inlaid cast iron tips.

The Qianlong emperor -reigned 1733 to 1796- both maintained a strong hunting tradition tied to his Manchu roots and a marked appreciation for Western firearms, describing one of his heirloom musket as “wonderfully efficient and pleasing”.
Although most of Europe had developed other ignition mechanisms for their small arms, matchlock guns remained popular in Eastern Asia well into the 19th century.