Original North African or Arabian Heavily Decoratively Inlaid Snaphaunce Lock Jezail - Circa 1820

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.

What we offer here is a spectacular example of the very best Snaphaunce Jezails made between 1800 and 1820 using the finest materials available and enhanced in masses of Coin Silver most likely smelted from Spanish 16th and 17th century "Treasure" looted or mined in South America.

This example is 54 inches in overall length, with a 41 inch iron barrel. The wood stock is about 48 inches long, and is inlaid with bone, mother of pearl, silver and copper wire, as well as iron and brass inlays. Most are designs, but there does appear to be inlaid writing on the left side. The stock also has a nice thumb cutaway in the wrist, which has an inlaid border. The barrel is retained by engraved and embossed brass barrel bands made from sheet brass. The barrel knoxform has some copper and silver inlaid markings.

The lock is iron faithfully copying the 16th/17th style of the Spanish Snaphaunce firearms, despite the technology being 200-300 years out of date.

All in all a MUSEUM QUALITY example which we received from probably the foremost expert on Islamic and Ethnographic weapons inside the United States that had originated from a truly magnificent Collection. For an authoritive reference see "FIREARMS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD" by Robert Elgood Pages 67-76 for an almost identical gun now displayed in The TAREQ RAJAB MUSEUM in KUWAIT.

Fully cleaned and now ready to display looking its very best.

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 1820
Caliber: approx .50 inches
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball & Powder
Barrel Length: 41 inches
Overall Length: 54 inches
Action: Snaphaunce Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded

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