Original North African or Arabian Attic Find Snaphaunce Lock Jezail with Bone Inlays circa 1800

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. The Jezail (sometimes Jezzail from the Arabic) is a simple, cost-efficient and typically handmade muzzle-loading long arm commonly used in the Middle East region in the past. These were all highly personalized, so no two were alike. They were often made with locally available locks, so it was common to see locks on these that were of varied origin. This example is all locally made, and probably originates from anywhere from Morocco in the West to Saudi Arabia in the East. It features a very attractive snaphaunce style lock.

King Philip III of Spain signed an EDICT OF EXPULSION in 1609 to purge the nation of over half a million "Moors" who had arrived in Spain over the previous 500 years. These unfortunates were compelled to return to their ancestor's lands in North Africa. When leaving they took many "Western Skills" learned in Spain with them. Gunmaking was one such skill and a contingent of Muslim Gunsmiths set up in the City of Tetuan in what we now call Morocco.

They continued to make the latest style of firearms then dominant in Spain which was the SNAPHAUNCE system, a forerunner of the traditional FLINTLOCK soon to be introduced in France. These Arab made long guns intended for use from the saddle of a Camel were smooth bored but surprisingly accurate and production of the same ignition system continued for over 200 years and more even through the late Victorian era.

This example is definitely NOT suitable for shooting anymore, only for display. It was found in an attic recently, and definitely had been there for some time. Probably around 200 years old, this Snaphaunce action Jezail musket was exactly what the North African Arabs used while riding a Camel. Remember the Movie "BEAU GESTE"? Modeled after those Spanish 17th Century examples, these were made up until almost the end of the Victorian era and most of those encountered returned with Colonial Soldiers returning from overseas assignments.

This example displays well but it has some internal missing parts or is so internally worn that it is now for "DECORATION ONLY". The smooth bore barrel is 48 1/2" in length giving an overall length of 62 1/2", not packed in a suitcase. The rear end, the butt is considerably inlaid with bone decorations and from a decorative point of view is very impressive. It has a wooden stock, but it is mostly iron clad except on the butt stock.

Typical of Arab weapons from North Africa it is ready to display!

History of the Snaphaunce Lock:

A snaphance or snaphaunce is a type of lock for firing a gun or is a gun using that mechanism. The name is Dutch in origin but the mechanism can not be attributed to the Netherlands with certainty. It is the mechanical progression of the wheellock firing mechanism, and along with the miquelet lock and doglock are predecessors of the flintlock mechanism. It fires from a flint struck against a striker plate above a steel pan to ignite the priming powder which fires the gun.  Examples of this firearm can be found through Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.


Years of Manufacture: Circa 1800
Caliber: approx .55 inches
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball & Powder
Barrel Length: 48 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 62 1/2 inches
Action: Snaphaunce Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded

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