Description Made for Ottoman sultan Mahmud I (r. 1730-1754), this bejeweled gun conceals compartments for a dazzlingly adorned dagger and set of writing instruments. To get to them, one opens the hinged door bearing the diamond-encrusted insignia or tuğra of Mahmud I and the date AH 1145 (1732/33 CE). This unique set of objects represents two activities important to Ottoman sultans in this period: marksmanship and calligraphy. Sultans were expected to be both proficient hunters and adept writers. The gun was never shot, though, and therefore probably served as a spectacular element of imperial regalia. Many artisans were involved in the design, engineering, and decoration of Mahmud’s gun set. The gunsmith Isma‘il impressed his mark on the gun’s barrel. The top of the barrel is also inscribed with the date AH 1145 (1732/33 CE) and the Arabic phrase ma sha’a Allah (What God has willed). The jeweling can be attributed to an Armenian Christian, Hovhannes Agha Duzian (d. 1744), who was chief goldsmith under Mahmud’s predecessor, Ahmed III, and continued to work in that elevated position for Mahmud I. The miquelet lock, added to the gun later potentially replacing the original, also bears the name of its maker, Muhammad, and its former owner, Ahmad Khan.
- The Art of Writing Instruments from Paris to Persia. 2011.
- Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. 2015-2016.
Provenance Robert S. Pardo, Istanbul; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1903; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Translation] On barrel: What God wills; [Translation] On flintlock: Work of Muhammad, its owner is Ahmad Khan; [Seal or Tughra] Hidden under panel in stock: Sultan Mahmud I
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1903
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